Equis ISSN 2398-2977

Musculoskeletal: physical examination - foal

Contributor(s): Graham Munroe, Martin Weaver

Introduction

  • Overall appreciation of the foal's conformation for symmetry, abnormal swellings, or stance may give clues to the location of a source of pain   Behavior: pain assessment  , cause of lameness or site of pathology, or help to assess the clinical significance, or progress of correction, of developmental orthopedic disease.
  • Close observation of individual structures by visual assessment and palpation will add to localizing information prior to manipulative and other diagnostic steps.
  • For other age groups see Foal: evaluation - neonate   Foal: evaluation - neonate  , adult   Musculoskeletal: physical examination - adult  .
  • Immature components of the musculoskeletal system and immune system of young animals place the foal at high risk of injury or infectious causes of lameness.
  • Early recognition of abnormalities is imperative so that prompt treatment can be initiated and long-term prognosis improved.
  • Infectious causes of lameness are common in foals, especially <4 months of age, and can be very serious it is prudent to assume that all causes of lameness in the young foal are infectious in origin until proven otherwise   Joint: septic arthritis - foal  .
  • Boisterous activity coupled with hazardous environment increases the risk of traumatic injury to a foal: kicks, collisions and over-exertion injuries are common.
  • The growth plates of immature bones, especially the long bones, are weak and vulnerable to injury, eg fractures (Salter-Harris types I-VI).
  • Developmental orthopedic disease is common in weanlings and yearlings and includes: flexural deformity   Musculoskeletal: flexural deformity  , angular limb deformities (varus/valgus)   Musculoskeletal: angular deformity  , osteochondrosis   Bone: osteochondrosis  (several limbs may be affected concurrently), physeal dysplasia (physitis)   Bone: physitis  , cervical vertebral malformation   Spine: cervical vertebral malformation (CVM)  .

Uses

Advantages

  • Non-invasive opportunity to examine foal at rest.
  • Minimal stress to animal.

Disadvantages

  • Provides general information only. 
  • Possibly incidental findings of no clinical significance. 
  • Requires reasonably relaxed animal to permit objective evaluation of response to palpation. 
  • Wide range of 'normal' conformation    Musculoskeletal: conformation  and response to manipulation.
  • Manipulation of fracture sites may exacerbate soft tissue injury, even convert closed fracture   Musculoskeletal: fracture   to compound (open).

Requirements

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Preparation

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Procedure

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers


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