Fractures of the Third Phalanx


Fractures of the third phalanx are not unusual radiographic findings. While some of the changes seen in the third phalanx are compatible with the radiographic appearance of a fracture, they may be the result of other physiologic processes. In Figure 8, there is a radiolucent line along the caudal most aspect of one of the wings of the third phalanx, which probably represents a congenital aberration, the result of a separate ossification center in this region. I do not attach any radiographic significance to this change.

Figures 9 and 10 illustrate fractures of the wings of the third phalanx. These fractures are significant, even if the horse is clinically sound, and a neurectomy could have been performed. Because it involves a larger portion of the articular surface, I consider the fracture in Figure 10 more serious than that in Figure 9. Again, it is necessary to discuss these changes with the purchaser, indicating the possibility of future problems related to the fractures. The previous history and current use of the horse would certainly influence me in advising a potential buyer. If the fracture is years old and the horse has been sound and in continual work, I would be much more optimistic about the horse's future than if this were not the case.
Figure 9. Figure 10.
Dorsoventral radiograph of the foot demonstrating a fracture of the wing of the third phalanx. Dorsoventral radiograph of the foot demonstrating a fracture of the wing of the third phalanx with articular involvement.
Figure 11 indicates a fracture (sagittal) through the center of the third phalanx, which I consider to be a serious radiographic finding. Until this time we have only discussed the purchase exam in relationship to soundness and usefulness in work. One might be considering the purchase of a broodmare or stallion with this type of fracture of the third phalanx. Therefore, the evaluation becomes somewhat different as compared to a horse that will be used for competition. However, I would still have to be very pessimistic about the future of an individual with this type of third phalangeal fracture, even if the horse were going to the stud.