severed extensor tendon in horse front leg - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 10-26-2012, 10:54 PM Thread Starter
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severed extensor tendon in horse front leg

I'm a new post'er to this thread -I will try to keep it short with my concern. I'm looking for medical advise, mental advise (for me) and experiences with same injury

about 3 weeks ago my horse had a tragic accident that resulted in degloving her right front leg and severing the extensor tendon. This poor girl's leg is just split up There's bone exposed and like I said the tendon split. But those are the only in depth injuries aside from the flesh and gore and blood.

Due to the lack of positive healing process she started fighting infection and is now at the vet since Tuesday. This is my very 1st horse that I have "owned" and first experience with an injury this sever! With the stage that we are at right now and the look in my horses eye tells me she needs to be put to sleep. I REALLY REALLY REALLY don't want to make that decision if we can help to get out of it.

She had been using the leg 70% strong up until I checked on her today and I would say her effort on that leg is 40%-30%, The vet has cut off the Bute so her system can kinda catch up and I think she is just really feeling the pain of the injury.

As for treatment it all started on day 1 with furacin and wrapping every 48 hours, I stopped the cream after about 4 days and went for the Nixall Spray (approved by my vet 1st) she showed infection in other parts of her body ( more than 1 limb was surface injured) but she started getting pockets here and there...5 days of penicillin, still on 2g of Bute per day then the gangrene set in. Monday he put a carbon graph on the tendon area and yesterday he has [for the 2nd time in a week] took the wrap off to air it out (24hr periods exposed) The Bute was stopped Sunday (5 days ago)

Getting into this my hopes were high for a healthy recovery and now going to the process and knowing at the horizon there's always reason to put a horse down-anything can happen and just spending time with her in the stall today I know she is flat out miserable. I would fight this fight for her if I could and I hate to see her suffering. I'm still hopeful and positive but in reality I am hurting, dreading, sobbing and mentally preparing to have to put her down

I'm that proverbial childs' dream, now adult horse owner and this situation KILLS me. I could not have asked for a better off the track green 2 year -old 3 years ago. She's school'd me, Iv school'd her now her and I are partnered with schooling my 3 year old daughter. This mare has been a BLESSING. I owe her everything I can but I only want whats best for her!

I don't know the nature of this thread on posting images, I'm going to trust my better judgment and put the photos on a link

Pictures by agammill2989 - Photobucket

Again- any advise, stories, suggestions are really appreciated and thank you =)
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post #2 of 13 Old 10-26-2012, 11:26 PM
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We have a mare who got caught up in a guide wire a few years ago. Ripped half her chest off. And most of the muscle on the front leg and her extensor tendon. The vet said to put her down. She would never be able to walk properly. Never be sound even to breed. But she just kept neighing and trying to follow my mom. So we decided to give her a chance. We knew the risk of infection was high. Especially since it was such a massive wound there was no way to cover it. She would kiterally get air pockets back at her hind quarters we would have to push out. After months of antibiotics, 2g of bute daily, cleaning 3x a day, support wraps, stall rest. She healed up. About a year later, she went completly and totally sound. Our vet was completly amazed. We have a gorgeous foal on the ground. And can do light trail rides on her. The scar is hideous. But it could have been way worse. So dont give up hope. But we were always aware that we may have to make that choice.
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post #3 of 13 Old 10-27-2012, 07:38 AM
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I've seen two of these injuries now, thankfully not of my own horses.

First was my coach's 4 year old warmblood. Put his hind leg through a fence kicking out at another horse, degloved it but not quite as severely as your mare, there was still a small amount of skin left connected along the back of the leg.
He was put immediately into a cast, and ended up having skin graft surgery to encourage healthy tissue growth. He'd only nicked the tendon thank heavens, but it was still a very long 12 months of locking him in a stable in a cast from hoof to over the hock.
He is now about to enter his first Prix St George (Dressage) start, at riding 8 years. So far the leg is holding up well despite a significant scar, but at times we do suspect he can feel it when he steps a little short in that hind leg during some of the more collected work.

The second incident is a yearling filly, again, put her leg through a fence but the same injury as your mare, degloved the whole way around and took out the tendons, leg fell down like a sock around her fetlock. Like my coach's horse, she went straight into a cast. It's been a good 6 months and the tendon still hasn't rejoined. Not a great chance of her being much more than a paddock ornament, not the Dressage horse she was bred to be.

Good luck with your mare, but remember, if she's telling you that she's had enough, the kindest, more unselfish thing you can do is to put her down.
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post #4 of 13 Old 10-27-2012, 08:51 AM
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Oh gosh! I am so sorry your going through this!! Your poor mare :( i can't say whether or not you should put her down, but she will tell you if she's ready. Id still have her on Bute if it was my mare. Maybe you could feed ulcer guard to keep her stomach feeling ok? Not sure if that would conflict with anything though. Good luck with your girl. Hope it turns out well. Will she ever be sound again?
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post #5 of 13 Old 10-27-2012, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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thanks for the info, I have been researching and researching on this and I see more success stories than ended stories. Probably all I have seen (included here) involve a cast and Im wondering my GraySea wasn't put in one, especially since she comes over on that hoof while in stride, that can't feel good at all! My old trainer suggested Banamine or Previcox as alternative from Bute, the ulcer guard feed is a good idea

From the severity of this injury I don't expect her to be fully sound again, and I wouldn't push her past her comfort level. I was training her in hunter/jumper (just for pleasure/small fun shows... there's really not a HUGE circuit here in Missouri for that) Fox Hunting probably could happen again if she can run comfortably and we will bybass the coops if she can't jump. If any thing else I would be just as happy to have her as a trail/hack horse and my daughters lesson horse. It's a long road and I am just happy I have the funds to do what I can for her.
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post #6 of 13 Old 10-27-2012, 01:44 PM
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That is a nasty injury!

If she has severed her extensor then she will not be able to raise her foot forward at all. She would be three legged lame forever as stitching the tendon together is not feasible.
If it is split lengthways then there is some hope but doubtful she would be sound.

I cannot understand the vet cutting out the bute - ridiculous. There is some danger of liver damage or stomach ulceration but that is only after long term use and three weeks is not long term.

If you are going to try and get her healed then first hand I can tell you to get some Resolve Wound.
Resolve Wound | Powerful Proud Flesh, Cut & Wound Treatment For Horses

I cannot recommend this product highly enough and neither my vet nor I can believe how rapidly it has healed a very nasty wound (his pictures are on the Resolve Wound site - the colt with the gashed side.)
When the stitches broke down the vet was looking at Christmas before it was feasible to look at grafting but this last week it has closed nearly an inch.
This was an easy wound to heal compared to your horse's leg.

It is never easy making a decision to euthanise, If she has truly severed the deep flexor then I would not have even tried, if you are going to then you know the horse and is she has given up you will see it in her eye.

Good luck to you.
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post #7 of 13 Old 10-27-2012, 02:19 PM
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I have no experience with such wounds, thank god, so cannot offer input on that. I will say that you know your horse, and if you don't think she's got the fight in her, it would be kind of you to let her go. Better a week too soon than a day too late. *hugs*
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post #8 of 13 Old 10-27-2012, 11:11 PM
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have dealt with these types of wounds at the clinic. Was the tendon completely severed in half, as in the ends are not together at all? Or cut lengthwise?
If it is severed in half, it is very unlikely at this point that it will heal to soundness, the tendons retract into the wound and unless they were brought together as soon as the injury occured, they usually will not grow together. However, sometimes scar tissue might fill in and give some ability for her to lift the foot, but foot will flop or drag when she walks and since the nerves are intact, I am sure there is pain involved. There are always good stories about these injuries healing, but of course it depends on the extent of the tear . Her foot will always flop, she will probably drag the foot/toe, but they can learn to lift the leg higher to compensate for the dragging foot. I would suspect if she heals that you might be able to walk her on flat ground , but never jump her since she will not be able to control the toe..
good luck, hope you have a success story.
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post #9 of 13 Old 10-27-2012, 11:44 PM
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Is it the lateral or the long extensor that has been severed? Or both? The lateral is generally a more hopeful prognosis than the long.

I dealt with an almost completely severed lateral extensor tendon on my old boy's hind leg a few months ago. Unfortunately, we lost him to colic 3 months in to the healing process, but we were well on our way to getting him pasture sound. He was bandaged from hoof to hock to brace the leg and prevent him from knuckling over. Only reason he wasn't casted was because it would have played havoc on his old joints.

With the extent of your mare's injury I can't quite fathom why she is not at least being bandaged stiffly from hoof to knee to stabilise the fetlock joint. A cast would be the most useful. If she is allowed to repeatedly knuckle over she will continue to reinjure the tendon.

When it comes down to it though, you know your horse and no matter what it is not an easy injury to recover from. If you don't think she has the fight in her to pull her through then letting her go is the kindest thing you can do for her.

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post #10 of 13 Old 10-28-2012, 12:04 AM
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Ouch! A mare I used to have did something similar, although just a bit less severe, to her front left leg. Sleeved the back of her leg and came within millimeters of one of those tendons that would require surgery to fix (I can't remember which one at the moment). She was on 3 legs and couldn't use it at all. Long story short, it was a long road to recovery but she did recover to be sound on that leg - but she didn't sever the tendon (so I'm not sure what one does to recover those?). She also lived with my aunt, who is a vet, at the time so that helped with her recovery I would like to think. Ended up that she became permanently lame due to her suspensory ligaments in her back legs...but that was a different matter.

I can't give advice, but I just thought I would pop in to say I know where you're at for the most part and it is not a nice place to be but I hope she pulls through! I wish you the best of luck with her recovery.
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bone , infection , pain , severed tendon

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