Even small leg wounds require attention
I am writing regarding “First Response: Large Laceration” (EQUUS 473). When describing the severity of various wounds, the article stated, “Wounds on the lower leg aren’t as likely to be life threatening.” Unfortunately, this is a common misconception that can have disastrous consequences.
The equine lower limb is composed of many intricate and delicate structures that have little protection (there is no significant muscle or fat to provide cushioning to the lower leg). Even a seemingly small, innocuous wound can easily lacerate a tendon or, worse, enter a synovial structure (a tendon sheath or joint). Open synovial structures can readily develop infections, which can cause severe lameness and ultimately the euthanasia of the animal due to unrelenting pain or loss of function.
For any cut or puncture involving a limb, it’s best to have your veterinarian out to thoroughly assess the wound for potential complications. I have seen several horses recently who had relatively small wounds on the lower limb that ultimately communicated with synovial structures. Thanks to their owners’ quick actions and prompt veterinary attention (debridement, lavage, and aggressive antimicrobial therapy), they have gone on to regain soundness with excellent prognoses.
Shanna Nelson, DVM Harrisonville, Missouri