Sign Up for Newsletters

New Advice for Treating Navicular Infections in HorsesBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · September 19, 2017

Taking a bad step can cause a horse to stumble, possibly resulting in soft-tissue trauma. If that misstep involves puncturing the bottom of the foot near the heel, a life-threatening infection could ensue. Recent research suggests that immediate surgery plus aggressive use of antibiotics may be the best treatment for a solar puncture.

“Not far below the solar surface of the hoof lies the navicular bursa. This small, cushiony sac is filled with synovial fluid and houses the navicular bone and the deep digital flexor tendon. The synovial fluid helps the deep digital flexor tendon glide over the navicular bone during locomotion,” described Laura Petroski, D.V.M., staff veterinarian for Kentucky Equine Research (KER), based in Versailles.

Like any synovial structure, such as joints, infections must be treated swiftly and aggressively to minimize damage to the structures and to give your horse the best chance of returning to athletic function.

“New data show that performing a navicular bursotomy while simultaneously administering antibiotics can successfully manage these challenging cases,” shared Petroski.

According to the group of surgeons, creating “windows” into the navicular bursa through the frog removes damaged, infected tissue and allows surgeons to wash the area with saline. In addition, antibiotics administered locally deliver a high concentration of antibiotic directly to the bursa. Systemic antibiotics deliver via the usual routes of administration (intravenous, intramuscular, and orally) also play a key role in successful treatment.

Researchers reviewed the medical records from horses undergoing navicular bursotomy between 2002 and 2016 at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Overall, owners were pleased with the outcome of the surgeries, and 84% of horses returned to their previous level of athletic function.

“While accidental penetrating wounds cannot always be avoided, owners are encouraged to perform routine ‘ground checks’ to remove dangerous debris,” Petroski advised.

She added, “To maximize hoof health in noninjured horses and help horses heal following navicular bursotomy, consider offering Bio•Bloom PS.”

Bio•Bloom PS contains a synergistic blend of biotin, zinc, lysine, methionine, iodine, lecithin, as well as a full-fat soybean meal to provide essential fatty acids.

In Australia, look for Bio-Bloom.

*Suarez-Fuentes, D.G., S.S. Caston, D.M. Tatarniuk, et al. Outcome of horses undergoing navicular bursotomy for the treatment of contaminated or septic navicular bursitis: 19 cases (2002-2016). Equine Veterinary Journal. In press.