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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1986 Aug 15;189(4):463-8.

Metacarpal and metatarsal fractures in dairy cattle: 33 cases (1979-1985).


Metacarpal (22) and metatarsal (11) fractures in 33 dairy cattle were treated by application of short or full limb casts. Twelve fractures involved the distal physis (6 closed, 6 open) and 21 fractures were nonphyseal (17 closed, 4 open). All physeal fractures were noncomminuted and 11/12 were classified as Salter-Harris type II. Eleven (52%) of nonphyseal fractures were comminuted. Closed fractures were reduced and a cast was applied after manual restraint, sedation with xylazine (along with use of ropes), or general anesthesia. Open fractures were best treated with the cow under general anesthesia. These fractures were carefully debrided, lavaged, and reduced, and a cast was applied. Antibiotics and analgesics were given parenterally. All cattle were restricted to a box stall during fracture healing. Fracture healing generally was rapid and uncomplicated. No closed fracture perforated the skin. Fracture healing was characterized radiographically by extensive circumferential periosteal new bone growth, closure of the distal physis, and preservation of articulations adjacent to the fracture site. Follow-up ranged from 6 to 78 months (mean, 32 months). Thirty of 33 (91%) cattle survived for a long period. All cows with closed (23) and 7 of 10 (70%) with open fractures survived. Three cows were euthanatized; 2 developed severe osteomyelitis and one fractured her metatarsus above a short cast. All 30 surviving cattle were considered by their owners not lame on the previously injured limb, with no noticeable angulation, bowing, or shortening. No deleterious effects on milk production were detected.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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