Authors of section

Authors

Jörg Auer, Larry Bramlage, Patricia Hogan, Alan Ruggles, Jeffrey Watkins

Executive Editor

Jörg Auer

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Proximal sesamoid bones: Apex fractures

Fracture characteristics

Apex fractures of the proximal sesamoid bones are particularly common in the hind limb of standard breeds.

Fractures of proximal sesamoid bones - apex fractures

Two types of apex fractures of the proximal sesamoid bone

Left: a lateromedial radiographic view of an apex fracture involving approximately one quarter of the bone.
Right: a lateromedial radiographic view of a small slightly displaced apex fracture.

Fractures of proximal sesamoid bones - apex fractures

Fractures of the proximal sesamoid bones - all fracture types

Introduction

Fractures of the proximal sesamoid bone occur primarily in racing breeds.
Occurrence of the fracture is usually associated with fast strenuous exercise, but has been reported in horses on paddock exercise and in young foals running on large pastures.

Fractures of the proximal sesamoid bone are more commonly diagnosed in the forelimb and the medial proximal sesamoid bone is the most frequently affected structure.

Fractures of the proximal sesamoid bones - all fracture types

Clinical signs

Typically the patient is presented with an acute non-weight-bearing lameness and minimal soft-tissue swelling associated with or without joint effusion.

Overview of fracture types

The following fracture types are diagnosed:

I. Apex fractures
II. Midbody fractures
III. Base fractures
IV. Abaxial fractures
V. Axial fractures
VI. Comminuted fractures

In this chapter the management of the different fracture types will be discussed in sequence as they are listed here, which corresponds with ascending severity and descending prognosis as listed in the human fracture classification. Axial fractures almost exclusively occur in conjunction with break-down injuries, or a displaced condylar fracture, which will be discussed under Metacarpo-/metatarsophalangeal arthrodesis.

Fractures of the proximal sesamoid bones - all fracture types

Example of an abaxial fracture

Fractures of the proximal sesamoid bones - all fracture types

Example of an axial fracture combined with a lateral condylar fracture

Fractures of the proximal sesamoid bones - all fracture types

Imaging

Standard radiographic views of the metacarpo/metatarsophalangeal (fetlock) region including dorsopalmar/plantar, lateromedial and two oblique views commonly reveal the fracture on more than one view. In selected cases additional radiographic views may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Fractures of the proximal sesamoid bones - all fracture types

Scintigraphy, computed tomography (CT) (see image), and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging are valuable aids for the diagnosis, especially in the assessment of associated soft tissues. CT and MRI are especially useful to assess articular fractures and to identify displacement of the fragments.

Fractures of the proximal sesamoid bones - all fracture types