Box rest and analgesia compared to arthroscopic debridement for lame horses with hindlimb subchondral lucencies



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Category of research


Number and type of study designs reviewed

Two relevant publications were found, both were retrospective case series.

Strength of evidence


Outcomes reported

The success rate of horses returning to previous level of competition following arthroscopic debridement varies widely in the literature available, from 25–86%. While a study reports 64% return to soundness following rest, it is not clear which horses received strict box rest or paddock rest, the duration of the rest period, and whether non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were also prescribed. It is also worth noting that all horses which undergo surgery will also undergo a period of box rest – which makes the two treatment options difficult to compare.


Newer techniques with better success rates are now available and should be considered in lieu of box rest or arthroscopic debridement. Across all treatments available, age remains an important factor with regards to return to soundness, with older horses having a poorer prognosis. Thorough examinations should therefore be performed to rule out concurrent conditions before deciding upon treatment options.

How to apply this evidence in practice

The application of evidence into practice should take into account multiple factors, not limited to: individual clinical expertise, patient’s circumstances and owners’ values, country, location or clinic where you work, the individual case in front of you, the availability of therapies and resources.

Knowledge Summaries are a resource to help reinforce or inform decision making. They do not override the responsibility or judgement of the practitioner to do what is best for the animal in their care.


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Vol. 8 No. 2 (2023): The second issue of 2023

Section: Knowledge Summaries

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