Topics of Discussion

The Problem with Puncture Wounds

It is uncanny how some of the smallest, seemingly innocuous wounds can become the most life-threatening. Those located around synovial structures (joints, tendon sheaths and bursas) often fall into this category. Early recognition of synovial structure involvement followed by aggressive therapy wins the battle in many cases, but not all. The statistics are worse when recognition or therapy is delayed. Having owners who are caring but also knowledgeable about limb anatomy is an important first step. Owners are often the first responder – making the decision on whether to contact their veterinarian.  It is an easy decision to make when blood is spurting, flesh is hanging, or bone is visible but not so easy when the wound is a puncture or just an inch or so in length. Perhaps some of the following information will be helpful in highlighting the importance of small but badly placed wounds. Continue reading

Topics of Discussion

Septic Arthritis, Tenosynovitis, and Bursitis 

Infection of synovial structures may involve joints (septic arthritis), tendon sheaths (tenosynovitis) or a bursa (bursitis), which is a fluid-filled cavity situated within tissues exposed to friction. The infection occurs when microorganisms are given time to colonize the space after a penetrating wound, a joint injection, following surgery or following a spread of bacteria via the blood stream (hematogenous infection).  Although common in the foal, hematogenous spread is rare in the adult horse but has been reported to occur (< 10% of cases). Therefore, synovial infection should be considered as a potential differential diagnosis in any horse with sudden onset of lameness, synovial effusion (fluid buildup) and fever.  Horses with drainage through communicating wounds will generally be less lame than those without drainage.  Therefore, it is important to rule out possible synovial structure communication with a wound at the time of injury rather than wait to see if the horse becomes lame.  Many times, these horses do not become significantly lame until 7-10 days later when the overlying wound has closed sufficiently to prevent synovial drainage. Continue reading

Clinicians and Staff

Patricia Provost – VMD, MS, DACVS

Dr. Patricia Provost

Whether mentoring future veterinarians, treating sick or lame horses and other large animals, or performing research for the advancement of veterinary care, Dr. Patricia Provost joined Tufts to make a difference in the lives of animals. Dr. Provost is a board-certified surgeon (Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) Continue reading

Clinical Case Review

The Case of a “Street Nail”

The contrast material fills the navicular bursa.

Nagel, a four year old Quarter Horse gelding, presented to the Tufts Hospital for Large Animals at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine after stepping on a nail, which entered the outer aspect of his right hind sole. Initial home treatments included daily foot soaks, phenylbutazone (an anti-inflammatory) and a course of antibiotics. Unfortunately, Nagel’s lameness returned despite his owner’s supportive and diligent home care. Radiographs taken by the referring veterinarian showed a penetrating wound that was tracking to the navicular bursa, with a small volume of gas observed within the bursa. Contrast injection into the site of nail puncture confirmed a communication of the wound with the navicular bursa. At that time, Nagel was referred to Tufts for exploratory arthroscopy. Continue reading


Regional Limb Perfusion

Regional Limb Perfusion (RLP)

Regional limb perfusion (RLP) is a technique which provides a high concentration of an antibiotic to the soft tissues, joints, and bones of the limbs. The antibiotic used would be very expensive if given at a dose appropriate for the entire horse but the cost of the drug is more affordable since it is delivered into a superficial leg vein below the level of a tourniquet, and the benefits great. Drug concentrations achieved generally exceed that required to kill many types of bacteria and persist locally in the tissues for an extended period of time. This makes RLP a practical adjunctive treatment for septic conditions affecting the extremities (the knee and hock and below). Continue reading