Science & Equine

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Written by Marly Coppens

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Patellar ligament splitting for delayed patellar release

Although medial patellar ligament desmotomy has proven to be an effective surgical method for delayed patellar release. It has it impairments like patellar fragmentation and osteoarthritis. An alternative surgical method to solve this problem is medial patellar ligament splitting. The procedure has few complications and rapid return to performance is mostly seen within 30 to 60 days.

When the medial patellar ligament catches on the femur’s medial trochlear ridge the horse’s stifle locks into an extended position and is called “upward fixation of the patella”. Delayed patellar release is more subtle. The patella doesn’t lock up entirely and shows less apparent signs just as jerky patellar movements.

During the procedure small scalpel incisions are made at various spots along the ligament and can be performed in the standing horse. Therefore the surgery costs and risks are less than one involving general anesthesia. The purpose of the technique is to create scar tissue that thickens the ligament and makes it more easy to release the patella from the trochlear ridge.

In this study 64 cases were reviewed. 89% of horses benefited from this procedure, 58% resolved completely, 31% improved and 11% was not corrected. Two horses had complications following the procedure. A few of the completely resolved horses needed additional treatment like intramuscular estrogen injections or a second splitting procedure.

> S.J. James et al., Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 34 (2014) 479–483. All rights reserved to 2014 Elsevier Inc. Click here for the J-EVS summary


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