New Concepts in Equine Skull Fracture Repair
Editor's Note: This article is part of TheHorse.com's ongoing coverage of topics presented at the British Equine Veterinary Association's 51st annual Congress, held Sept. 12-15 in Birmingham, U.K.
Equine skull fractures are surprisingly common, comprising 12% of all fractures horses experience (Hug et al. 2009). These typically result from kicks and collisions, but thanks to surgical and technological advances, they are often possible to repair.
Anton Fürst, DVM, Dipl. ECVS, of the University of Zürich's Equine Department, in Switzerland, presented on these advancements in skull fracture repair at the British Equine Veterinary Association's 51st annual Congress, held Sept. 12-15, in Birmingham, UK.
Prognosis for most skull fractures is good to excellent because they are not affected by weight or laminitis, two factors that impede long-bone fracture healing, Fürst said.
Clinical signs that your horse might have a skull fracture include an obvious wound, facial disfiguration, and neurologic signs. Veterinarians can diagnose them using palpation, radiography (X ray) and computed tomography (CT).
Although it does require general anesthesia, "CT is much more precise (than other methods), takes 42 seconds, and helps show you where to put screws (during surgical repair)," said Fürst.
He then described the six common types of skull fracture and how veterinarians are now able to treat them:
Possible complications of these repair procedures include infection, bone sequestrum (disease/death), a broken fixation, or infected teeth requiring removal.
Other surgical developments include using cable, which is more stable and flexible than wire, for fixation, but this method is still in development, said Fürst.
So while equine skull fractures are frequently unsightly and alarming, don't panic if you encounter one in your own horse, Fürst said. Veterinary surgeons can often repair these injuries successfully, and most prognoses are excellent.
Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.
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