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Dorsoproximal proximal phalanx osteochondral fragmentation in 117 Warmblood horses.

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  • 1Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Department of Surgery and Anaesthesia of Domestic Animals, Salisburylaan 133, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium.


The objective of the present study was to determine clinical and arthroscopic characteristics associated with dorsoproximal proximal phalanx (P1) fragments in Warmblood horses, as well as to examine their histopathological appearance. One hundred sixty-eight fragments were removed from 150 fetlocks of 117 Warmblood horses. Details of signalment and results of clinical examination were collected prior to surgery. After arthroscopic fragment removal and joint evaluation for synovial and/or cartilage abnormalities, the fragments were measured and evaluated histopathologically. The vast majority of the fragments (95.2%) were found medially, without predilection for front or hind limbs. In 10% of the joints, more than one fragment was present. The mean size of the fragments was 6.8 +/- 2.6 mm. Only eight horses presented fetlock-related lameness. Horses of seven years of age and older (OR = 13.32; p = 0.033) and the presence of more than one fragment (OR = 11.12; p = 0.016) were significantly associated with lameness. Arthroscopic evaluation revealed one or more abnormalities in 50.7% of the joints. On histopathology, osteochondral fragments presented as a bony center covered with smooth hyaline cartilage on one side and some fibrous tissue on the other side. No clear histopathological signs were indicating precisely their origin. In Warmblood horses with dorsoproximal P1 fragments, the age (seven years and older) and the presence of more than one fragment in a fetlock significantly increased the risk of lameness. The osteochondral dorsoproximal P1 fragments could be defined as a developmental orthopaedic disease.

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