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Surgical treatment of septic physitis in foals

M. S. Hall, P. J. Pollock, T. Russell

SURGICAL curettage can be a straightforward and useful adjunct to the medical treatment of septic physeal lesions, according to a recent study.

Septic physitis in foals can be difficult to resolve and affected foals are generally considered to have a poor prognosis. There is debate over treating the condition surgically, with some reports suggesting that curettage can lead to irreversible damage of the growth plate. Researchers in this study hypothesised that the physeal lesions would be composed of necrotic or purulent material and that this tissue would not contribute to physeal growth; removal of septic tissue would be the most pragmatic method of resolving infection.

Over a five-year period (2005-2010), 17 foals were treated with parenteral antibiotics and gentamicin or doxycycline. Of these animals, it was felt that 15 would benefit from surgery. Lesions were diagnosed and localised using radiography. Surgery was straightforward in all cases; the demarcation between the necrotic tissue and normal physis was easily felt and allowed for ease of curettage. Histopathological examination was carried out on tissue removed from three foals and showed that physis …

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