Surgical treatment of tarsal sheath effusion associated with an exostosis on the calcaneus of a horse. Academic Article uri icon


  • A 2-year-old Thoroughbred colt was referred for evaluation of effusion within the tarsal sheath and associated lameness of the right hind limb. Conservative treatment consisting of needle aspiration and pressure bandaging had been unsuccessful. Radiography of the right tarsus revealed proliferative periosteal reaction along the distal caudal border of the sustentaculum tali and medial aspect of the calcaneus. The owners elected conservative treatment, using a local injection of corticosteroid and pressure bandaging the tarsus. Five months later, the severity of the effusion and lameness had increased. Radiography revealed increased reactive bone along the sustentaculum tali and mineralization of the plantar tarsal ligament and tarsal sheath. Surgical exploration revealed fibrous adhesions between the medial aspect of the calcaneus and the flexor tendon and associated soft tissue mineralization. The adhesions were broken down and the reactive bone along the calcaneus was removed. The mineralized soft tissue within the tarsal sheath was excised. Five months after surgery, the horse was sound at the trot, with only minimal tarsal sheath effusion. The response to treatment for tarsal sheath effusion and lameness caused by bony changes of the sustentaculum tali is often unsatisfactory. After responding poorly to conservative treatment, the horse in this report had a favorable outcome to the surgical intervention of this condition.

published proceedings

  • J Am Vet Med Assoc

author list (cited authors)

  • Welch, R. D., Auer, J. A., Watkins, J. P., & Baird, A. N

citation count

  • 17

complete list of authors

  • Welch, RD||Auer, JA||Watkins, JP||Baird, AN

publication date

  • June 1990