Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Deep Digital Flexor Tendon Rupture

The deep digital flexor tendon runs down the back of the cannon bone, over the back of the fetlock, down along the back of the pastern, and dives between the heel bulbs and into the hoof. Here it runs over the navicular bone, and attaches on the lowest part of the coffin bone. The full weight of the horse is borne through the deep flexor tendon – it is under tremendous tension.

Rupture of the deep digital flexor tendon is a rare and catastrophic problem. It usually is seen secondary to a wound or chronic injury that occurs low in the foot. It is also associated with end-stage navicular syndrome.

Your vet uses a history and clinical exam to assess this problem and help you determine whether treatment is possible. Your vet should help you understand the anatomy and mechanics of the problem so that you understand principles of long-term management, shoeing recommendations, and your horse’s prognosis. Should you proceed with treatment, you will need to work closely with your vet and farrier to manage this severe problem.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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