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Foreign Body in Sole of Cattle


Paul R. Greenough

, FRCVS, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Last full review/revision Sep 2015 | Content last modified Sep 2015
Topic Resources

A stone or fragment of glass or metal penetrating almost through the sole will cause pain due to pressure on the corium and, if not removed, will lead to infective coriitis.

If the foreign body penetrates through to the corium, infection is introduced to the dermal level, and an abscess develops. The rapidity of onset and severity of the lameness depends to some extent on the location of the sole penetration. In the apical and subapical region, the lesion is located between the distal phalanx and the nonresilient sole. As the abscess develops, interungular pressure increases rapidly. Thus, the onset of lameness is rapid, and pain is severe. Acute lameness may cause the animal to stand with the foot off the ground or with the toe lightly touching. A differential diagnosis is fracture of the distal phalanx.

In the sub-bulbar region, the corium is located between the digital cushion (a flexible structure) and the soft, resilient horn of the bulb. The onset of lameness is relatively slow, and the pain is significant but not severe. The pus in the abscess tends to spread over a wide area through the fascial plane and to cause separation of the skin-horn junction at the heel. A moist discharge from this area may be the first indication of the lesion. This is referred to as "underrunning of the heel," a condition that can be confused with double sole (see Double Sole in Cattle Double Sole in Cattle Double sole in a beef heifer. In double sole, one sole is present while a new sole grows beneath, ie, there is complete shut-down of horn production for an undetermined short period of time... read more Double Sole in Cattle ).


The foreign body should be removed and the track cored out to the corium with a fine-pointed hoof knife. Creating a large hole is inappropriate. Pus is often released under considerable pressure. Antibiotic should be squeezed into the cavity, which closes rapidly. The opening should not be plugged but covered with elastic waterproof material to prevent blockage with mud or manure.

Treatment consists of removing the foreign body if still present. The detached horn should not be stripped off in its entirety. Part of the detached horn may be removed, but the abaxial wall must be left intact to bear weight and spare the exposed, newly forming sole. Bandaging may not be required, but the animal should be housed in a well-strawed area for a few days.

Lameness in Cattle
Overview of Lameness in Cattle
Physical Examination of a Lame Cow
Locomotion Scoring in Cattle
Computerized Recording of Digital Lesions in Cattle
Distal Digital Anesthesia for Diagnostic and Surgical Procedures in Cattle
Radiography in Cattle
Arthrocentesis and Arthroscopy in Cattle
Risk Factors Involved in Herd Lameness of Cattle
Footbaths of Cattle
Functional Claw Trimming of Cattle
Prevalent Lameness Disorders in Intensively Managed Herds of Cattle
Digital Dermatitis in Cattle
Pododermatitis Circumscripta in Cattle
White Line Disease in Cattle
Toe Necrosis Syndrome in Cattle
Sole Hemorrhage in Cattle
Thin Sole in Cattle
Heel Erosion in Cattle
Other Disorders of the Interdigital Space in Cattle
Interdigital Dermatitis in Cattle
Interdigital Phlegmon in Cattle
Interdigital Hyperplasia in Cattle
Disorders of the Horn Capsule and Corium in Cattle
Laminitis in Cattle
Double Sole in Cattle
Foreign Body in Sole of Cattle
Vertical Fissures in Cattle
Horizontal Fissures in Cattle
Corkscrew Claw in Cattle
Slipper Foot in Cattle
Disorders of the Bones and Joints in Cattle
Ankylosing Spondylosis in Cattle
Degenerative Arthropathy in Cattle
Coxofemoral Luxation in Cattle
Patellar Luxation in Cattle
Fetlock Dislocation in Cattle
Hip Dysplasia in Cattle
Fractures in Cattle
Septic Arthritis of the Distal Interphalangeal Joint in Cattle
Serous Tarsitis in Cattle
Neurologic Disorders Associated with Lameness or Gait Abnormalities in Cattle
Suprascapular Paralysis in Cattle
Radial Paralysis in Cattle
Ischiatic Paralysis in Cattle
Obturator Paralysis in Cattle
Femoral Paralysis in Cattle
Peroneal Paralysis in Cattle
Tibial Paralysis in Cattle
Spastic Syndrome in Cattle
Spastic Paresis in Cattle
Soft-tissue Disorders Causing Lameness in Cattle
Carpal Hygroma in Cattle
Rupture of the Gastrocnemius Muscle in Cattle
Rupture of the Peroneus Tertius Muscle in Cattle
Tarsal Cellulitis in Cattle
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Musculoskeletal Disorders in Large Animals
A seven-year-old Quarter horse gelding presents with a 1-week history of mild lameness. During the examination, the horse raises his head as he places weight on his left forelimb and drops it when placing weight on the right forelimb. Which limb is most likely affected in this horse?
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