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The Use of Digital Radiography in Remedial Farriery

On-site radiography is a great advantage and we thought we would share with you a case study that nicely demonstrates the benefits and the ability to take multiple shots during the trimming of a pony’s feet. This would not have been impossible with conventional film x-ray without bringing the pony to the clinic.

  1. The pony was found by a farmer in his field and turned over to the RSPCA. The feet have obviously not been trimmed!

  1. An initial x-ray was taken to assess the position of the pedal bone within the hoof capsule. Radical trimming without this information would risk trimming too close to the pedal bone with potentially fatal results. It allows us to use the saw safely!

  1. A second x-ray was taken at the half way point to allow the vet and farrier to get their bearings and to assess hoof angle. Note that the pedal bone is too upright at this point.

  1. An AP (front to back) xray was also taken to assess the straightness of the limb and the AP foot balance. Note that the base of the pedal bone looks irregular. To investigate this possible abnormality of the pedal bone further we carried out an extra x-ray view (upright pedal view).
  2. A good proportion of the pedal bone is missing, most likely due to pressure necrosis caused by the large amount of untrimmed and abnormal horn resulting in a disruption in the blood supply to the bone and abnormal pressure on the bone.
  3. This image shows how the foot finished up on that day after extensive trimming. The aim was to keep the pedal bone in the correct alignment so we didn’t put too much stress on the laminae of the foot and the tendons. This foot was trimmed again four weeks later to correct the foot balance and shape further. The blood seen in this picture is due to aberrant blood vessels that have developed within the horn, not by us having entered the sensitive laminae. This is confirmed by post-trimming x-rays. Pre-trimming x-rays have given us the confidence to trim radically but without injury.

  1. A final x-ray for posterity! We have achieved good foot balance.

This nicely demonstrates the advantage of having instant digital x-rays available on site. Without this facility the pony would have either had to be transported to a hospital facility, or a rough approximation of the site of the pedal bone made by the vet and farrier on the day (which with a case like this is not easy). Luckily we do not see too many extreme cases like the one above but having the x-ray on site with the farrier is also extremely useful for laminitic trims or orthopaedic shoeing.

St David’s Equine provide the equine veterinary services for Molecare Veterinary Services www.stdavids-equine.co.uk

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