Neurectomy Effects on Suspensory Ligament Discussed in Case Report

Neurectomy of the deep branch of the lateral plantar nerve resulted in a "profound" atrophy of the muscular portion of the proximal suspensory ligament reports researchers in the Equine Veterinary Journal.

The surgical procedure is routinely performed for the management of inflammation of the proximal suspensory ligament (proximal suspensory desmitis). Multiple retrospective studies have shown that horses treated by a neurectomy have a good prognosis for returning to function and work post-operatively.

Based on the authors' ultrasonographic finding that horses treated with neurectomies have small suspensory ligaments, they hypothesized that a neurogenic atrophy--abnormalities of the muscle due to loss of nerve supply--was occurring.


A neurectomy is a surgical procedure to cut a nerve.

The authors suggested that neurogenic atrophy is undesirable because a "detrimental biomechanical effect on the suspensory ligament" would be possible and that safety issues due to reduced strength to the ligament and overuse of the affected limb could arise.

To further explore if neurogenic atrophy of the muscular part of the proximal suspensory ligament does occur after neurectomy, researchers performed a unilateral neurectomy on one horse in the right hindlimb. The contralateral limb served as the unoperated control.

They found the cross sectional area of the muscular part of the suspensory ligament was markedly smaller in the operated limb compared to the control limb, prompting the authors to suggest that the shortening and stretching properties and elastic storage capacity of the ligament could be decreased following a neurectomy.

More studies evaluating the load-bearing capacity of the ligament due post-neurectomy are needed.

The short communication, "Neurectomy of the deep branch of the lateral plantar nerve can cause neurogenic atrophy of the muscle fibres in the proximal part of the suspensory ligament (M. interosseous III)," was published in May 2009. The abstract is available on PubMed.

Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.