158A new surgical procedure offered at the Equine Hospital


On February 8th, Dr. Sheila Laverty, Dipl. ACVS, Equine Surgery Professor and the direction of the CHUV welcomed Dr. Elizabeth Santschi, Dipl. ACVS, professor of equine surgery at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Manhattan, to train our equine surgery team in a new surgical procedure that will now be offered at the Equine Hospital of the CHUV: the treatment of stifle cysts through the installation of a screw.

Dr. Santschi has developed this new approach in the past few years to induce healing of subchondral bone stifle cysts in young horses.

Cysts may develop in the medial condyle of the femur in all breeds of horses. They may develop during the first months of life of the foal and be associated with osteochondrosis.

When the horse is young, there are rarely any clinical signs, but the cysts can be observed radiographically or may cause pain if they communicate with a joint. They may also develop following trauma to the joint or even be secondary to advanced osteoarthritis just like humans, even if this possibility is rare.

The cysts often cause lameness when the young horse begins training. If these are not effectively treated, tears to the meniscus as well as osteoarthritis may develop in the joint.

Over the past 20 years, many techniques have been developed to address these types of cysts (surgical debridement with drilling, debridement, arthroscopic corticosteroid injections, stem cells, biological products (BMP) injected into the joint). The success rate for the majority of these treatments is around 70%.

The new technique developed by Dr. Santschi, which involves inserting a screw into the affected condyle (or other sites according to the cyst location), facilitates healing and presentely offers an interesting success rate of 90% in young horses.

formation chx 5

Since femoral condyle cysts require a lot of precision, the CHUV invited Dr. Santschi to share her expertise with the Equine Surgery Service to achieve the first two cases in Quebec, cases referred by Dr. Claude Forget. Dr Forget was happy see his patients benefit from these scientific advances of science in Quebec. He mentioned not btaining the desired results by injecting the cyst with corticosteroids.

Drs Sheila Laverty and Elizabeth Santschi currently collaborate with Dr. Ursula Fogarty of the Irish Equine Center in Ireland to better understand the development of these cysts in young horses.