Stone came in to Burwash Equine unable to bear any weight at all on his right hind limb. He had sustained a wound on his hock that had been healing well, but had never been lame prior to the morning he arrived. By palpating the hock, doing an ultrasound exam, taking x-rays, and taking a sample of the fluid from the tarsal sheath, we diagnosed an infection of the tarsal sheath
The tarsal sheath is a synovial structure full of fluid that surrounds the deep digital flexor tendon and allows it to glide over the hock. Infection of this structure is similar to an infected joint; it is a life-threatening emergency in a horse.
We performed a through and through lavage of the tarsal sheath by injecting fluid through needles and allowing the pressurized fluid to exit through other needles and through the wound itself.
Stone also had several regional antibiotic perfusions of the area, and was on oral antibiotics. After five days, he was able to return home to his owner for continued bandage changes, walking without lameness on the limb and with much reduced swelling around the hock. Although many cases like this will not respond to treatment unless surgery is performed to debride the infected structure under camera guidance, this was not an option for Stone and his owner, and we were very glad that our limited treatment was able to make the difference in this case!