Monday, 28 October 2013

Horse medial patella ligament desmotomy, severing, Fred update

By the way, Fred's medial ligament severing desmotomy was a complete success. She can even still sleep standing up, which is a surprise, but the Vet says that some horses manage to find a way to do it and clever Fred is one!
It is such a shame that she didn't come sound as well, as she is a Saint.

As I said in a previous post, the reason that she was WORSE after the splitting op to shorten the ligament was because it turned out that the problem was that the ligament was too SHORT in the first place, not too long as the Vet suspected. The operation to shorten the ligament then made the sticking worse, not better. It is ESSENTIAL that the Vet is CERTAIN that the ligament is too long before any treatment is carried out, be that injections or splitting.

I would not hesitate to recommend this treatment to anyone with a horse that has problem sticky stifles, either too short or too long, as my old Vet tells me that, contrary to what you read on the Internet, out of the hundreds of similar op's he has done during the last 30 years, not ONE has had any further problems or arthritis in later life.


  1. For any horse that is sticking/locking in the stifles, one of the first places that should be checked (and sadly, seldom is) is the medio-lateral balance of the hind feet. Every locking horse I've seen has had one heel longer than the other (always the inside so far, but I guess it could be the same with the outside heel too). This puts strain up the limb, and can trigger locking in some horses. Of the horses I've personally dealt with, rebalancing the hoof correctly has also corrected the locking issue. In two bad cases (horses locking more than 1/2 the time), vets had proclaimed that the horse would have to have an operation and even then wouldn't be guaranteed to stop locking, and yet in both cases after two weeks of better hoof balance the locking was much reduced and after a couple of months stopped almost entirely.
    One of these cases was a mini I was considering buying - when I first saw him in the paddock from a distance (standing still), I asked the owner if he had any issues with his stifles, the answer to which was Yes, a lot. From over 5 metres away I could see his heels were badly out of balance - a closer check showed the inner heels were over an inch longer than the outside (on a tiny mini hoof !?!?!) and yet no one had noticed or considered that hoof balance could be part or all of the issue... I bought him, took him home, and trimmed his feet as soon as he got off the float, and he improved immediately. Ever since, I've known when he was overdue for a trim because his stifles start to get a tad sticky, but he hasn't locked completely since a couple of months after he arrived.
    So have a look at the feet first before considering any sort of operation - hold the leg loosely by the cannon and sight down the back of the cannon to the heels. Do the heels sit almost square to the line down the cannon, or are they tilted? If they are tilted, then it may be necessary to rebalance the rear of the hoof by lowering the longer heel and/or letting the shorter one grow (or wedge it). You should get a fairly quick indication if rebalancing the heels is going to help or not - the locking should reduce significantly within a week or two.
    New Zealand


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