Last Updated on February 23, 2022 by Allison Price
Researchers examine the effectiveness of a surgical option for treating locking stifles.
Study shows that “sticky” stifles can be fixed with ligament-splitting surgery.When the medial patellar ligament becomes hooked at the end of a femur, it causes upward fixation of your patella.
When the medial patellar ligament becomes hooked at the end of a femur, it causes upward fixation of patella (also known as sticking or locking stifles). This causes the horse to be unable to flex or move the limb. When the leg is flexed again with a jerky motion, it becomes “unlocked”. Horses with mild disabilities may still be able to ride, but they might not be able in severe cases.
Some cases of sticking stifles can be resolved by corrective shoeing or conditioning. However, for more severe cases, surgery is often an option. One surgical technique called “splitting” involves making several small incisions in the medial patellar ligament. The ligament becomes thicker with scar tissue as it heals, making it less likely that it will become stuck to the femur.
Researchers at Peterson and Smith Equine Hospital in Ocala (Florida) reviewed records from 24 horses that had the procedure performed at their clinic between 2005 and 2012. This was done to determine the success rate. Interviews with owners, trainers, and referring veterinarians were also conducted.
Data showed that 71% of horses were able return to their original use and that 18% performed at a higher level. Three-quarters of horses experienced a recurrence after surgery. These statistics aside, only half of the owners were satisfied with the outcome of the procedure.
Researchers call for more research into medical and surgical options to treat locking stifles.