Ask an Expert

Cutting the Deep Digital Flexor Tendon

February 25, 2013

When it comes to rotation of a horse’s coffin bone, there are several options for treatment.

Ask an ExpertQuestion:
Is it recommended to do surgery by cutting the flexor tendon in a laminitic horse who has an 11-degree rotation of the coffin bone?

For the answer to this question, the American Association of Equine Practitioners consulted Dr. Chris Bell.

Cutting the deep digital flexor tendon is one option to help treat rotation of a horse’s coffin bone. The surgery is performed to relieve the tension of the DDFT on the back of the coffin bone and thereby, hopefully, prevent further rotation of the coffin bone within the hoof. There are no hard guidelines for when to cut the DDFT. Some soft guidelines include greater than 15 degrees of rotation, refractory to pain management or presence of the coffin bone through the sole. These are guidelines only.

There are several other options available to treat rotational laminitis. Depending on the severity and rapidity of the laminitis onset, other options may include anti-inflammatories, cold therapy, padded frog support shoes, styrofoam shoes, derotational shoeing treatments, etc.

You should discuss all the possible

options with your veterinarian and farrier before making a final decision. Some horses can return to some form of athletic work after DDFT transection (cutting the flexor tendons), but the decision should be made once all other options have been weighed and considered.

— Dr. Chris Bell, member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners