PPE on a horse with bone chips (OCD?) removed as a yearling. UPDATE and Reseale?

I will ask my vet and the one doing the PPE, but I need to make plans over the weekend, maybe without their help. Thus, I’m coming here for a basic tutorial.

The essential question is: If there were bone chips found in a hock when the horse was young (and removed, and now seems to X-ray clean)……

Do I have to x-ray every other cotton pickin’ joint to look for more?

The horse is a 5-year-old Arabian/German WB cross. She has just 60 days under saddle.

Thanks for your experience and insight.

Bone chips and OCD are not the same thing, you need to clarify which. No, you don’t need to xray every joint, just do flexions and look into any iffy areas.

Thanks. I know just enough to be paranoid (and probably about to over-vet a relatively inexpensive horse).

Assuming these things were congenital (and how else does a yearling get bone chips in a hock), I should at least X-ray the other hock, right?

Yes, sometimes congenital, sometimes injury, sometimes from overfeeding young horses. Was it an actual chip or was it an OCD lesion? And yes, I would xray the other hock too.

In TB yearlings, when chips or OCD are discovered in one joint and surgery is the option, it’s smart for the owner to x-ray other joints. That way if any other issues are discovered elsewhere, they can all be fixed in one swoop. OCD lesions are more frequently found in multiple joints than simple chips…if it was an OCD I’d be more inclined to “x-ray every joint” as opposed to a chip.

If I’m buying from a smart, respected owner whom I trust, I would investigate if they had checked other joints at the same time and be less inclined to radiograph everything after flexing. I may take my own x-rays of the “problem” joint in PPE, and confer with my vet to ensure the joint healed well. Provided it checks out normal, it would not prevent me from buying the horse nor affect its sale price.

Ask the vet doing the PPE their suggestions for additional views. (Some vets will offer a package deal for PPE radiographs, which can be a good value) and perhaps speak to the surgeon that removed the original chip for clarification of what it was. They may have elected to take some additional views when they did the Sx, just to rule out other lesions.
In some cases, the surgeons will tell you removal of the lesion is considered curative, and prognosis for the horse to achieve it’s full athletic potential is excellent.

Thank you all for the info.

The owner has been nothing but honest and helpful so far. I have access to radiographs and she has given her vets permission to speak to me.

I will ask about the other hock-- if it were checked out at the time or not. And I don’t yet know if these things count as OCD or bone chips. In the “before” rads, they look like small, light chips of bone to me. But there are a few.

This is a homebred and I also met the stallion owner (not the HOs). He is known for adding size to his babies, so the story is that these chips (or whatever) came from the filly growing so fast as yearling.

Bone chips in a young horse are mostly due to OCD. In rare case they could be from trauma but it’s usualy OCD
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Update and a new question.

The update is more information. They did x-ray the opposite hock at the same time, when the horse was a yearling. It was clean. But man, there was a lot of shrapnel in the hock with the chips. Everyone (vets and trainer) considers these chips the product of OCD, though there could have been some trauma to that joint, given that just the one hock was involved.

My vet cautioned me about resale. What he meant was that despite a very clean-looking joint in the 5 year old, the effects of surgery (mainly taking out a lot of cartilage to get the bits of bone) would make anyone shy. And that might persist even if the mare stays sound and is doing a job, since the cartilage problem would show up as the horse ages.

I’ll pass on this idea to the vet who will do the PPE. His practice, but not he, did the surgery. We did speak some about those x-rays today (before I learned about these concerns from my vet). I didn’t tell him this was a horse I’d probably resell some day. But he didn’t seem afraid, either.

Bottom line: Would you/your vet buy a going horse like this…… problem found and solved as a yearling, but still with an OCD surgery in her past?

Oh, and my vet thinks that lesions in the stifle caused by OCD would have shown up by now if they were there. That and the problem limited to one hock makes him less worried that this horse is riddled with it. That opinion is worth what you paid for it. But he did think that OCD issues in different joints had a habit of showing up at distinct times in a young horse’s growth. So OCD in hocks happen at 1-2 years; stifle lesions show up a tad later. Just FYI if you like free ideas from the interwebz.

Is a horse with bone chips removed tainted forever?

A sound five year old in work with clean joints certainly doesn’t sound worrisome! Plenty of other things can go wrong if you need more to worry about, LOL!

Can you ask for the images of the interior of the joint that were obtained when the chips were removed? It would be great for your vet to review so you have a better idea of what exactly was done to the cartilage.

This:

taking out a lot of cartilage to get the bits of bone

Would have ME quite concerned.

Are there current rads showing the affected hock? I would want to know what it looks like NOW vs. what the yearling films showed. The body is an amazing thing, so having a current view to look at would be better than speculation about old films and whats in there now.

I’m with Simkie - I don’t like the sound of this. There are so many lovely youngsters out there with sound rads. I would be disinclined to buy this horse, especially with resale in mind. At the very least it would have to be a STEAL.

Best of luck in your decision. Credit to you for doing due diligence before jumping in. At least this way you will sleep at night knowing you went about it intelligently.

I have a friend who just called with a similar question - except it is a 5 year old who has NOT yet had the surgery. 5 year old in work - then they decided to sell the horse, and xrays showed chip(s) in one hock. Personally, I think if the horse had surgery as a young horse, and has been going sound for a year under saddle, and surgery was successful is not such a huge risk. But a horse who has not yet had surgery and is NOW going under? My advice was don’t do it, but I’m wondering if anyone else has seen this kind of situation?

Not to sound disrespectful, but some of this shows why the poor breeder/seller can’t win for losing!

Before anyone hits the panic button, or misses the chance on what may be a lovely young horse, I would strongly suggest taking the advice and opinions of the professionals that are EXPERIENCED with this sort of thing. Coming to an internet BB for advice has its merits, but you may get all sorts of misinformation and responses that are not based on fact or experience. Kudos to your seller for honestly representing their horse. There are many out there that would not be so forthcoming, both here and in Europe. Horses don’t magically come across the ocean with clean xrays. :wink:

Here is my personal experience with a similar situation:
I had a yearling (that has since been sold) who had a slight bit of effusion in one hock, and we confirmed with radiographs that he had a DIRT lesion that hock. The opposite one was fine.
I was not able to do the surgery to remove the chip for 3-4 months. Toward the end of that time frame I noticed the effusion was a bit ‘bigger’, and when we took pre surgical rads, the chip had broken up into many smaller fragments, which explained the increased swelling.
The surgery was preformed by Dr. Foerner, (who is one of the pioneers of arthroscopic surgery in this country). He removed most of the fragments, and did comment that there may be additional bone fragments remaining; however, it was his opinion that to further disrupt the joint capsule (notice I did NOT say cartilage) to remove those pieces would only be “treating the xrays”, and he did not endorse it, nor did he think it would cause any problems for the horse down the road.
About a year later, the horse had a very thorough PPE with a full set of xrays, (With the films reviews by two vets) and there was no evidence of any problem with either hock. This horse was never unsound, and to my knowledge has not had any problems relating to the hock or surgery.

True! My thought as well. These people have done everything right… as far as they knew to do. According to the trainer helping them, they might have kept her a tad too heavy as a yearling, but she was allowed to live out (avoiding the mistake of restricting exercise which is surprisingly common).

So this is not to disparage the owner/breeder.

And to answer some other questions: They have disclosed everything. They did pay for a set of X-rays this past April (mare is 5 now, just 60 days under saddle, surgery was when she was a yearling). Those recent x-rays are clean.

The surgeons’s didn’t have pictures of the joint in surgery. Too bad. PPE vet looked at the location of the fragments and knew they hadn’t had to dig through too much cartilage to get there.

We have just about concluded that this problem has diminished enough for my tastes…… Don’t worry…. there are more to come, now involving a sound horse with wide channels on one navicular bone.

Sigh. Another day, another research problem!

[QUOTE=sixpoundfarm;7809006]
Here is my personal experience with a similar situation:
I had a yearling (that has since been sold) who had a slight bit of effusion in one hock, and we confirmed with radiographs that he had a DIRT lesion that hock. The opposite one was fine.
I was not able to do the surgery to remove the chip for 3-4 months. Toward the end of that time frame I noticed the effusion was a bit ‘bigger’, and when we took pre surgical rads, the chip had broken up into many smaller fragments, which explained the increased swelling.
The surgery was preformed by Dr. Foerner, (who is one of the pioneers of arthroscopic surgery in this country). He removed most of the fragments, and did comment that there may be additional bone fragments remaining; however, it was his opinion that to further disrupt the joint capsule (notice I did NOT say cartilage) to remove those pieces would only be “treating the xrays”, and he did not endorse it, nor did he think it would cause any problems for the horse down the road.
About a year later, the horse had a very thorough PPE with a full set of xrays, (With the films reviews by two vets) and there was no evidence of any problem with either hock. This horse was never unsound, and to my knowledge has not had any problems relating to the hock or surgery.[/QUOTE]

Now that you mention that DIRT acronym, I think we might be talking about the same bit of anatomy— something about the Intermediate Tibial Ridge? A non-weight bearing part of the joint?

I remembered the anatomical terms the PPE told me when he called having looked at the before and after X-rays. I didn’t think I had quite hear the acronym right. By then, I hadn’t re-studied any anatomy so that I could-- myself-- understand where these chips had come from.

In any case, here are some morals of the story from my point of view:

  1. Not all chips are created equal…. or equally destructive.

  2. If you find a chip (or bone cyst) in one joint, it’s “best practice” to x-ray the opposite one. My impression is that a problem on just one joint doesn’t increase the odds of finding more OCD lesions (or cysts?) in other joints. Those things in a pair of joints (like both hock) does slightly increase the odds of the same physiology screwing up other joints. So, OCD in both hocks means you’d better x-ray the stifles fo’ sho.

  3. It turns out the HOs did get some stifle shots done while they were doing the surgery. Hats off to people doing the best they can for the horse they own! I don’t cut corners in my horse’s care/maintenance (even if they are cheap), and I know not everyone is like me. So these breeders have done things right for the first 5 years, when the mare didn’t do any substantial work…. and my job is to mitigate risk for that longer phase of her life when the anatomical chickens they bred into her come home to roost, so to speak.

I feel sorry for both sides in a horse-buying deal!

Hey @mvp did you end up buying this horse? How did it work out? Considering a young horse with a basically identical history including location of OCD and successful surgery to remove.

Oh, hai! Great that you asked some 5.5 years on. Yes, I did buy the horse, she’s sound and has always been.

In fact, at 11, I have asked vets and pros watching her go if they see any reason to kinda/sorta/maybe/start thinking about injecting her hocks. This mare has not worked terribly hard, but the other jumping horses I have owned would all have had baseline x-rays and probably some sort of intra-articular “maintenance” by now. Everyone says Nope. They think she looks plenty sound back there.

Remember that this is a reasonably small/light Arabian/WB who hasn’t been asked to jump or for lots of collection. So there are plenty of reasons to think that I haven’t taxed her hocks hard. And she wasn’t started until she was 5 because she was so slow to mature. But I haven’t heard a peep from those joints.

Hope my data point helps for you. The vet on my side of the table was the one who pointed out that not all lesions are equally bad and he had thought that a DIRT lesion taken care of was among those that was no big deal.

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