Last Updated on March 29, 2022 by Allison Price
Osteochondrosis is a common cause for stifle lameness among young horses (see Osteochondrosis In Horses). The most common location for lesions in the stifle is the lateral trochantlear ridge of a horse’s femur. However, they can also be found in the intertrochlear groove or on the patella. Most lesions develop bilaterally and usually appear within the first six months of life. Foals and yearlings may experience joint effusion or lameness in severe cases. Sometimes, the clinical signs of a less severe case may not be apparent until the horse begins athletic work. Mild cases may not show any clinical signs. Lameness can be severe or mild. Common is fusion of the Femoropatellar Joint. Radiographic, ultrasonographic or arthroscopy can confirm diagnosis.
Conservative treatment is possible for mild lesions in foals. Foals with more severe lesions may need arthroscopic surgery to debride. However, it is important not to take out too much subchondral bone. For horses with more severe defects or fractures, arthroscopic surgery may be the best option to remove any osteochondral fragments or poorly attached or loose cartilage. It can also debride or remove abnormal subchondral bones.
The prognosis for adult horses after surgery to return to athletic soundness depends on the severity and extent of the subchondral defect.