Arthroscopy allows for minimally invasive assessment of joints. This endoscopic technique (with a small camera) allows the visualization of cartilage, joint fractures (“chip”) and bone/cartilage fragments (including OCD). Using special instruments (rodents, elevators, shavers), joint problems are corrected by only 2 or 3 small incisions. The joints most often explored are the fetlocks, hocks, carpals and stifles. Smaller joints (distal interphalangeal, proximal interphalangeal) and bursae (navicular, bicipital) can also be evaluated.
Tenoscopy (endoscopy of a tendon sheath) is based on the same principle and allows the evaluation and treatment of the tendons included in this sheath (digital, carpal and tarsal sheaths). Tendon problems (deep flexor, superficial flexor, manica flexoria) heal less well when they are in the synovial sheaths. Thanks to tenoscopy, the damaged tendon can be debrided and healing will be faster. In addition, tenoscopy has a major diagnostic advantage, as intra-synovial tendon lesions are frequently not detected by ultrasound. In addition, in cases of synovial infection (infection of a joint or sheath) from blood in foals or secondary to a penetrating wound, joint lavage under arthroscopy allows visualization and removal of foreign bodies that would not have been visualized without endoscopy.
A desmotomy is the severing of a ligament. It can be performed in the case of clubfoot (desmotomy of the carpal tunnel), patella hooking (desmotomy of the medial patellar ligament) and angular deformities of foals (cagneux foals, panards, …) Foals may have deformed limbs. This is due to problems with the growth plate (from which the bone grows in length). If farriery does not solve the problem, a periosteal elevation operation can be performed. In very advanced cases or at the level of the fetlocks (whose growth plate closes very early), screws can be placed in order to stop the growth on one side.
The horse, because of its size and character, is not an ideal candidate for the treatment of fractures. However, in the last ten years, osteosynthesis equipment (plates, screws, pins, ….) has been adapted to the considerable weight of horses. Fractures of certain bones can now be successfully treated (phalanges, cannon, ulna).