Authors of section


Anton Fürst

Executive Editor

Jörg Auer

Open all credits


1. Principles/General considerations

The most common sites of fracture of vertebral bodies include the first three thoracic vertebrae, around T12 (the area of greatest lateral bending and axial rotation), and the lumbar vertebrae. Dorsal spinous process fractures tend to occur at or near T6.

There are few reports describing surgical treatment of thoracolumbar fractures in foals.


2. Preparation and approach

This procedure is performed with the patient standing or positioned in lateral recumbency through the dorsal midline approach to the dorsal spinous process.

dorsal midline approach to the dorsal spinous process

3. Resection

Bone fragments are identified by visualization and palpation. They are removed by freeing them from muscles and ligamentous attachments.

Wound debridement is very important as well as the establishment of a drainage system.

thoracolumbar dorsal spinous process

4. Closure

The ligaments, subcutaneous tissues, and skin are closed.

A stent bandage is applied and covered with an adhesive barrier drape to keep the incision clean and dry during recovery.


5. Aftercare

Following surgery, antibiotics and NSAIDs are routinely administered for 3 days. If indicated, they need to be continued.

Routinely follow up radiographs are taken immediately after surgery and after 2 and 4 months.

The rehabilitation protocol includes 2 months of stall confinement, followed by 1 month of hand-walking, and 2 months of progressive exercise.

Only when the ataxia has completely disappeared, the horse can return to training or other activities.

plate fixation with atlantoaxial arthrodesis