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Patellar Ligament Injuries in Horses

By Jane C. Boswell, MA, VetMB, CertVA, CertES (Orth), DECVS, MRCVS, The Liphook Equine Hospital ; James K. Belknap, DVM, PhD, DACVS, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Ohio State University ; Tracy A. Turner, DVM, MS, Anoka Equine Veterinary Services ; Peter Clegg, MA, Vet MB, DipECVS, PhD, MRCVS, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Liverpool ; Matthew T. Brokken, DVM, The Ohio State University ; Marcus J. Head, BVetMed, Rossdales Equine Hospital and Diagnostic Centre ; James Schumacher, DVM, MS, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee ; John Schumacher, DVM, MS, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University ; Chris Whitton, BVSc, FANZCVS, PhD, Equine Centre, University of Melbourne

Patellar ligament injuries are rare but may be seen in jumping horses. The middle patellar ligament is the most commonly affected. Lameness is variable but may be severe in acute cases. Clinical signs are often subtle; femoropatellar joint effusion, periligamentous thickening, and edema are inconsistent findings. In many horses, lameness is unchanged by intra-articular anesthesia of the femoropatellar joint; therefore, diagnosis is confirmed by ultrasonography. Treatment is prolonged rest (up to 6 mo). Lameness is often slow to resolve and may recur.