Conditions or ailments that are the cause of a problem that you see - your observation.

Your vet may diagnose

Nail or Other Foreign Body Punctures Foot, Sole or Frog


Foreign bodies (especially nails) that puncture the ground surface of the hoof are, unfortunately, fairly common.

Prior to removal, many vets like to take radiographs of the foot with the object in place in order to determine what structures are involved in the injury. The downside to leaving it in is that the horse may drive it deeper into the tissues.

After the foreign body is removed, it is important that the tract is opened up to encourage drainage. This is often followed by bandaging and poulticing of the foot. If the nail or foreign body has penetrated an important structure, then specialized (possibly surgical) treatment may be necessary.

A nail that does not penetrate critical structures usually results in a sole abscess. A nail that penetrates critical structures (the navicular bursa, coffin joint, navicular bone itself and the digital flexor tendon or sheath) usually results in severe unrelenting lameness and a life threatening crisis.

my vet's role


Prognosis depends on the location and depth of penetration, and anatomic structures involved. Prognosis is guarded to poor (for return to performance career) if the navicular bursa or other vital structures are involved.

Prognosis is good if no vital structures are involved. The standard of care is now arthroscopy of the navicular bursa if the nail penetrates this structure. This allows visualization and careful removal of dead tissue and foreign material.

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP