Arthroscopic Surgery

  • Osteochondritis Dissecans (“OCD”)
  • Chip Fractures
  • Subchondral Bone Cysts
  • Articular Fracture Repair
  • Synovial Infection (Lavage/Debridement)

Arthroscopic surgery has long been the standard for the majority of all articular (joint) surgery in horses, as it has been in humans. It is considered a minimally invasive technique in that only very small incisions are required. It is performed under general anesthesia in the vast majority of cases. Depending on the joint and the nature of the problem the number of incisions is typically 2 or 3.

Each is closed with a few skin sutures. In addition to causing minimal trauma to the soft tissues around the joint, arthroscopy allows a far more extensive evaluation of the joint than could be accomplished with an open procedure (an “arthrotomy”). With the exception of the more serious or more severe conditions most horses are bearing full weight and walking with no visible lameness the day after surgery. The typical hospital stay for a patient undergoing elective arthroscopic surgery is usually only 2 or 3 days (1 or 2 nights).

Aftercare is typically minimal following arthroscopic surgery, and includes light bandage changes, anti-inflammatory medication, and a controlled exercise program. Some of the most common conditions treated arthroscopically include: osteochondritis dissecans (“OCD”), subchondral bone cysts, chip fractures, and arthroscopically assisted internal fixation of articular fractures (e.g. slab fractures and condylar fractures). Arthroscopy is often used as a diagnostic technique when a problem has been localized to that joint, but diagnostic imaging (e.g. radiographs, ultrasound, CT, MRI) results are negative or equivocal. Endoscopic surgery is not limited only to joints. The standard arthroscope can also be used to evaluate and treat various conditions involving tendons sheaths (tenoscopy) and bursae (bursoscopy).