Fetlock arthrodesis boost survival rates
There are many traumatic and degenerative versions of fetlock damage, and Chelokee, a 4-year-old colt, suffered one of them during the Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 2.
He was taken to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, where Larry Bramlage, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, performed a fetlock arthrodesis to save him.Chelokee's version of the injury involved destruction of all the supporting ligaments to the back of the fetlock and pastern joint.
Teuflesburg, a 2007 Kentucky Derby starter, suffered another version last October — comminuted fractures of both sesamoid bones behind the fetlock joint, destroying his ability to stand on the limb. Bramlage performed successful fetlock arthodesis on that horse as well.
Background of procedure
After studying the mechanics of the fetlock joint and working with surgical approaches that would allow stabilization without added morbidity, in 1978 he handled the first clinical case, a mare that had ruptured the suspensory apparatus by pulling both sesamoids off the long pastern bone.
The procedure itself worked, but wasn't early enough to save the other foot and the mare was lost to laminitis. Fetlock arthrodesis had shown promise earlier, when the team tried it on cadavers and research horses. They had performed it about 10 times, when Bramlage and Dr. Bill Reed were called upon to perform it on Noble Dancer after his injury at Belmont Park. The famous runner went on to a stallion career of 20-plus years before dying of infirmities at 25 or 26.