filly with cut gastroc tendon

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Apr 12, 2004
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North Queensland Australia
I have a small 9 month filly patient with an injury that I have never seen in 30 years practice and I am casting about to find somebody that has.
This filly has cut the gastroc tendon which is part of the Achilles group of 3 major tendons that are at the back of the hock. The gastroc tendon is completely severed about 3 inches above the hock while the Superficial Digital Flexor and Peroneus tendons are not.
The Gastroc tendon is important because this attaches to and extends the hock and allows weight bearing. Without it, the animal cannot stand on the leg because the hock just flexes. There are no sutures manufactured strong enough to take the weight of the horse this high on the leg, and even if a suture strong enough is found the tension on the tendon will constrict circulation and prevent healing. A cast for the leg is not practical even in a dog with much less weight. The way we fix these injuries in dogs is to put a large screw through the hock into the bone behind so the joint is rigidly fixed and the tendon bears no weight. There are no such screws adequate for a horse and the bone is not strong enough to take the force anyway. The temperament of a horse is not conducive for healing with screws in such an important weight bearing joint.
I want to know if anybody has seen such an tendon injury heal reasonably by granulation. Euthanasia is being considered but currently the little one is eating and reasonably content.
I have posted the question on a few vet lists but have had no first hand experience reported. My colleagues in equine practice are all negative about this. It seems to be a rare injury, mostly the whole tendon is cut and of course it is is then draw the curtain time.
The value of the filly is A$2,000 which means it is fairly well bred. An ordinary filly here will be less than $1.000
I don't know that I will be much help, but I do have a couple of suggestions. The first is to go to a major vet college websit and try to scatter some emails about to different Dr.'s. i.e.; Texas A&M, Oregon State, Ect. You might try to email some equine specialist in some of the more "horsey" areas i.e; Ocala Florida, Kentucky, Texas, California, ect.

I have a filly which I had a bone chip removed, It cost us over $4000 by the time it was over. She was also a $2000 horse. The differance between your case and my horse is that mine had a 90% chance of full recovery, which she did and is, yours sounds so severe that the owner needs to ask themself what can we do with the horse afterwards and what will the quality of life be for the filly... always lame, always sore?

Just my opinion

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