Tendon & Ligament Procedures

Tendon & Ligament Procedures

Superior & Inferior Check Desmotomy
Annular Desmotomy
Tendon Splitting
Tendon Sheath Endoscopy (Tendon “Arthroscopy”)
Stem Cell Treatment
Retinacular Release

Tendon and ligament injuries are a major category of orthopedic or musculoskeletal problems in horses. Unlike many of the fractures and joint injuries that are specific to racehorses, tendon and ligament injuries are seen in all breeds and all disciplines. And unlike fractures, which generally have a very predictable time course for healing and often a relatively specific or easily predicted prognosis, the timetable for healing and the prognosis for each tendon or ligament injury can vary widely from patient to patient. This is in part due to the fact that injuries to tendons and ligaments range from mild strains to severe tears or even complete disruptions. The other major factor at play when dealing with tendon and ligament injuries relates to the way that they heal. Unlike a broken bone, which when fully healed is as strong as it originally was, injuries to tendons and ligament that involve any fiber tearing or disruption heal with some component of scar tissue. The scar tissue does not have the same elastic and other biomechanical properties of normal tissue, and therefore represents an area that is more susceptible to re-injury. The rate and quality of healing has some biologic variation between patients. For these reasons, tendon and ligament injuries are probably some of the most frustrating conditions in equine athletes, both, for the veterinarian and the owner/trainer. Suffice to say, any significant tendon or ligament injury generally requires 6-12 months for recovery. Permanent impairment or loss of athletic function is always a serious concern.

Ultrasonographic examinations are the cornerstone for both, diagnosis and monitoring healing. The goal of the majority of treatments for tendon and ligament injuries is to improve the healed state of the fibers such that they most closely resemble normal or uninjured tissue. In other words, minimizing the amount of scar tissue and maximizing normal fiber alignment. Depending on the structure that is injured, and the duration and severity of the injury, treatments for tendon and ligament injuries range from traditional or “proven” surgical procedures to very high-tech or cutting edge modalities such as autologous stem cell therapy that are still in the developmental stages with their potential and limitations yet unknown. In many cases, a combination of treatment modalities will be prescribed. Regardless of the form of intervention, long-term rest and an incremental controlled exercise program remain the key ingredients to success.