(Leg) Wounds? Keep them clean!

Foto: DigiShots

October 14, 2021
Photo: DigiShots

Veterinarian Ids de Boer from Paardenkliniek Aa & Hunze (equine clinic, ed.) was doing his rounds when he received a phone call from a horse owner. A yearling colt had broken free and had slipped on the hard surface of the yard. The fall had caused several injuries: ‘As long as there is no severe bleeding of the wound it is usually not a matter of great urgency. However, suturing of the wound within six hours gives the best chances of healing.’

Abrasions must be kept clean and supple

First thing Ids de Boer did was check the injuries and assess how the horse moved: ‘He put weight on all legs. Bending of the near fore was a bit troublesome, probably because there was a graze on the front side of the knee. On the inside-backside of the off fore just above the fetlock the horse had suffered a cut. The wound edges clearly receded and therefore needed suturing’. All injuries were freshened up with Hibiscrub (an antibacterial shampoo) and thoroughly rinsed with a physiological saline solution. Abrasions cannot be stitched up, here the advice is to keep them clean and supple: ‘Best practice is to rub on something like for example a honey salve.’


In order to suture the cut on the off fore, De Boer first sedated the colt and administered anti-inflammatories and then shaved away the hairs around the wounds: ‘That makes the wound more visible and makes it easier to clean’. Before stitching, the wound has to be as clean as possible; first action was again cleaning and rinsing of the wound with an antibacterial agent. The next procedures have to be carried out under the best possible clean and sterile conditions to make sure no new dirt can enter the wound, which could cause inflammation of the wound. Before the wound can actually be stitched up it is very important to check if there might be a potential connection with deeper structures such as tendon sheaths or joints.


After stitching of the wound De Boer also applied a tight bandage from the hoof to just below the knee. That will keep the wound nice and clean and the bandages also serve as a bit of counterpressure to discourage swelling. Since the wound was pretty dirty he put the horse on antibiotics for a few days to reduce the chances of infection in the wound: ‘Fortunately antibiotics are not always necessary to treat wounds, usually some anti-inflammatories to ease pain and swelling are prescribed’. After five days Ids de Boer changed the bandage for the first time; the sutures were still in neat condition. The second bandage stayed on for a week and when it came off the stitches could also be removed; the wound had completely healed.

Read the full real-life story by veterinarian Ids de Boer in the November issue of Phryso

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