success of stitching lower leg tendon - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-27-2012, 07:14 AM Thread Starter
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success of stitching lower leg tendon

My main question is has anyone had success with healing of the superficial digital flexor tendon?

Trigger is a 4 year old appy cross, great boy. His owner had boarded him with me since he was 6 months old. We recently have just started him under saddle, and now not too sure if we may ever continue.

Last saturday we went to gather horses for good old farrier day. We found trigger with a deep gash about 4 inches wide on his lower left leg. You could see bone!

The vet came out and attempted to stitch the tendon that was sliced in half literally and wound with a drain. He was on 20ml of penicillin 2x daily and bute with bandage changes and stall rest. The vet came out again on wednesday and the stitches have open apart about an 8th on an inch. He left 4 shots of another antibiotic and when I phoned him he said the opening is a good thing as it will help with draining. Trigger is now on another antibiotic given orally 2x daily. The name of it is rather long (sorry I don't have the bottle with me right now). He also on bute. The vet said he is not too sure if the tendon is still intact with the stitches, however we have noticed that triggs is favoring it less compared to the initial day. We are continuing with bandage changes and slave. I did ask the vet if we should try to use a spilt of some sort to stabilize the hoof from knocking over inward and he said that won't be a good idea. He also said that he not sure if scar tissue will need to take place first. I know will message threarpy that scar tissue can be broken up.

We still are not too sure how this happened, 6 different people have inspected the fence line and found no traces of being caught in a fence. We did find coyote prints and they are heavily populated in our area. Triggs in the 4 years I cared for him has never pushed or attempted to test fences. There is nothing in his pasture but 2 trees and rain barrels for water trough. Saturday the horses a normally well behaved for the farrier and well they all where pretty antsie and bone heads.

I am wondering if anyone has had this kind of injury and if it was successful at healing. His family not into shows just trail riding. I understand each horse is different and right now believe its mostly up to him to behave and stand in the stall. I know we are already looking at least a month or two in a stall if not longer and than pasture rest for awhile on his own.

Thank you in advance for any insight!
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post #2 of 7 Old 04-27-2012, 08:44 AM
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Way back when I had only had my QH mare Lucy for a year, she took a stick 3" upward into her suspensory tendon and ripped the sheath surrounding it. Freak accident for her, as she was trying to get away from a rather obnoxious alpha mare in the field and slipped in the mud in the field as she spun.

Like you, she was on Pen-G shots for I believe, 7 to 10 days, developed an infection and it got into the senovial fluid surrounding the tendons, so we had to switch antibiotics, Lucy was on stall rest for over 4 months, a few trips up to Texas A & M for ultra sound treatments, then a lot of cold hosing, checking the senovial fluid till it was clean, therapy that I learned to do, and eventually she cleared up.

However, I can never ride her like I can her brother. I can lightly ride her, we have children on her, and light w/t/c around but if I work her too hard, the tendon will swell up. So, I wonder if this isn't the type of road you may be down. Just keep it clean, keep it from forming scar tissue and ask your vet about hand walking and moving around to keep it moving.
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post #3 of 7 Old 04-27-2012, 03:28 PM
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I had a big three year old TB do this last year.
I had him shot without even thinking of trying to 'save; him. My vet agreed. As he was a young horse he would never have come sound enough to do anything with and he would have been bored silly.
When a horse has a severe injury like this then it is usually the good leg that gives out a few years down the line because of the extra weight bearing it does.

Big difference between the tendon and tendon sheath.

My young horse struck into himself with his own back leg out in the field - and he was not shod.
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post #4 of 7 Old 04-27-2012, 03:53 PM
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You may never figure out what the horse found to cut himself on!

I have a mare that severed the tendons in her back leg. I have the vets write up that he sent her home with and can scan it for you to review if you think it will be helpful. She severed both tendons, I think one was 80%a nd the other was completely severed. Not sure which was which or what they are called but I'm sure it's in the write up that I have.

We hauled her to the equine hospital about 2 hours after it happened (It took a couple hours for the vet to get there). It took about 2 hours to get to the hospital so we barely made it within the 5 hour surgical window.

She went into surgury and had no issues. They put a cast on her that was actually the same type of plaster that people will have on a broken arm. Her wound was draining quite a bit so a day or two after the surgurey the cast was removed (cut in half). We wrapped her leg w/ a soft no stick gauze and k-flex bandaging then put the cast over that then wrapped it again w/ a sticky bandage. We did that daily for about 4-6 weeks. The other leg had a severed artery that had been stitched so we changed those bandages every other day. That good leg kept a standing wrap on it because it was baring the brunt of the weight and we didn't want to run the risk of laminitis in the good leg.

She stayed in the hospital for about 10 days before coming home and we kept her in a stall for about 4-6 weeks. Can't remember exactly how long. After about 6 months we were told she was about as good as she was going to get but that was wrong because a year later she showed even more improvement.

She has lost some flexibilty in that back leg but she can walk, trot, canter, and has even jumped a 2 foot course. She is not heavily ridden but she loves to trail ride and actually can hang with the best of them. The back leg is permanently larger then the other so it always looks swelled and the farrier does have to do that hoof differently.

But we didn't end up with string halt or any other serious issue and we are happy to have her. It's been about 3 years I think since the injury? I'd have to check the date now...
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post #5 of 7 Old 04-30-2012, 12:15 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, there is some hope!
I have seen and helped my boarders family do so much with this boy, her one son as especially made him his horse. It breaks my heart not knowing the out come and possible suggestions and ideas that can be brought up to the vet.

The stitches have opened further this weekend and the vet will be out tommorow. I am not too sure if the stitching of the tendon has held.

Farmpony84 thank you for sharing your story and possible options for us to look at and suggest to the vet. Triggs is being great so far except he starting to get antsy with being in the stall for so long(he use to 24/7 turn out). This is probably why the stitches have be "ripped" in one part of the wound. they never had the mind set that this boy will be a working athlete and have a career. He was to be used for trails and the kids to enjoy. our main goal of course is to get him healed and functioning to the best so that his quality of life is better.

it just breaks my heart that he is only 4. the one son has worked from the ground up with him and me, learning every step. I know it can happen to any horse, but when you see so much pride in a young boy (14) and than not know if their journey will continue.
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post #6 of 7 Old 04-30-2012, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you! I will deff look into that tonight. Off to do bandage changes and see what the vet has left.

I appreciate all in put and my boarder does well
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post #7 of 7 Old 05-01-2012, 08:23 AM
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I am familiar with a very nicely bred Arabian gelding who suffered a severed left front tendon. It happened when his owner was riding him along a roadside in deep grass. The horse stepped on a glass beer bottle the sound of the glass spooked him and he suffered the cut at that time. The horse's owner contacted a Vet and a journeyman Farrier. The Farrier fashioned a brace made of horseshoes and pieces of flat steel. One horseshoe was turned backwards just below the knee then the flat steel was welded to each side of the leg shoe and welded to two shoes at the bottom of the hoof. It took a while for the tendon to heal and the horse was never sound enough for riding except the owner donated his horse to a Handicapped Riding Therapy Center. That leg had to have a theraputic rubbing down medication applied and wrapped before a riding therapy sesssion.
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