EQUUS - - Conformati­on Insights -

Frac­tures have a dis­tinc­tive ap­pear­ance both in the skele­ton and on x-rays, mak­ing them among the eas­i­est of all le­sions to de­tect. Rolf’s skele­ton shows two: The first is a healed frac­ture of the 16th rib of the left side. Frac­tures of the rear ribs in horses are fairly com­mon be­cause ribs are thin bones that are, at the same time, ex­posed to kicks. Rolf was, of course, pas­ture-bred and lived with a herd year­round. This can be a pretty rough-and­tum­ble ex­pe­ri­ence for the stal­lion as he ap­proaches, sniffs and licks each mare to de­ter­mine whether she is in sea­son. Far more sur­pris­ing is the par­tial­ly­healed frac­ture of Rolf’s left is­chium (the is­chium is the bone that struc­tures the rear third of the pelvis). The photo be­low (A) shows Rolf’s whole pelvis in top view; yel­low ar­rows mark the line of frac­ture. Guide­lines show that both the fore and hind parts of the pelvis are some­what asym­met­ri­cal; this much is within nor­mal lim­its as no mam­mal is per­fectly sym­met­ri­cal left to right. How­ever, the frac­ture of the left is­chium has dis­placed it for­ward.

The en­large­ment (B) is a view di­rectly from the side: Note the sharp, raw edges and that the frag­ments seem to be only min­i­mally ad­her­ing to each other by the de­po­si­tion of new bone (blue ar­row). This in­di­cates that the frac­ture oc­curred less than two months be­fore Rolf was eutha­na­tized, as the min­i­mum time for com­plete bone heal­ing is eight to 10 weeks. In ac­tu­al­ity, we know that the frac­ture oc­curred shortly be­fore Rolf’s death. The break oc­curred as the re­sult of a di­rect and force­ful kick to the hindquar­ters, prob­a­bly by a mare. The frac­ture was very painful and re­duced Rolf’s mo­bil­ity to near-zero, so the de­ter­mi­na­tion was made al­most im­me­di­ately to eu­tha­na­tize the old stal­lion.

Rolf’s bro­ken pelvis: View A whole pelvis with ori­en­ta­tion guides; View B insert en­large­ment show­ing frac­tured area of the is­chium.

Rolf's bro­ken rib

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