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