Authors of section


Alan Ruggles

Executive Editor

Jörg Auer

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Distal physeal fractures

Fracture characteristics and clinical signs

Distal physeal fractures of the tibia occur in young horses typically less than one year of age. They occur secondary to trauma.
In general the fractures are of the Salter-Harris Type I and typically have minimal displacement. Lameness is typically severe and soft-tissue swelling is variable.


Careful radiographic examination of the distal tibia is required to identify the fractures.
Most fractures are not or only minimally displaced.

Radiographs of SH-I fracture of the distal


Tibial fractures usually develop as a result of trauma, such as kicks or falls. The exception to this are tibial stress fractures, which are an accumulation of cyclic loading and bone fatigue.

Fracture types overview

The most common types of tibial fractures are:

  1. Salter Harris Type II
  2. Tibial crest fractures
  3. Simple diaphyseal fractures
  4. Comminuted diaphyseal fractures
  5. Diaphyseal stress fractures
  6. Medial malleolus fractures
  7. Lateral malleolus fractures
  8. Distal physeal fractures


Radiography provides the most meaningful information as to location and configuration of the fracture(s).
In most cases 4 views at 45 degree intervals provide adequate information for an exact diagnosis. For the evaluation of the proximal tibia typically a lateromedial and a caudocranial projection each is enough.
Nuclear scintigraphy is useful in the identification of tibial stress fractures, which may be radiographically inapparent.

Craniocaudal and lateromedial views