Tests or procedures used by your vet to determine what is wrong with your horse, in order to reach a diagnosis.

Cost: $1,000 to $2,500

These cost ranges are approximate and may vary from region to region.
Additional charges may also apply.


Arthroscopic Exploration, Surgical

Cost: $1,000 to $2,500

These cost ranges are approximate and may vary from region to region.
Additional charges may also apply.

Fetlock Joint Wound & Infected Fetlock Joint Treated with Joint Flushing


Arthroscopic surgery is a comparatively less traumatic form of joint surgery that has been performed on horses since the 1970's.

The majority of arthroscopic procedures are performed on race horses. However diagnostic arthroscopy has become a common way to visualize the inside of joints and tendon sheaths in horses of all breeds and disciplines.

Arthroscopy is performed via tiny portals into the joint rather than large, open incisions. An arthroscope attached to a video camera is inserted in one portal and an instrument is inserted into another portal remote from the first. The scope allows the operator to visualize the movement of the instrument and the anatomy of the joint.

From a diagnostic standpoint, the scope can be manipulated to see much of the anatomy, depending on the joint and the equipment used. Typically, horses undergoing arthroscopic surgery are placed under general anesthesia.

"Needle arthroscopy" is a new technique made possible by the development of tiny arthroscopes the diameter of a needle. These can be inserted into the joint of a standing, sedated horse. This technique is presently only used for diagnosis. Treatment would still need to be performed in an anesthetized patient.

Why A Vet Chooses This Diagnostic


Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

This test could rule out or confirm any of the following diagnoses.

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnoses
Arthroscopy has great diagnostic value. It provides a detailed look at many of the surfaces of most equine joints. Cartilage defects and soft tissue lesions that are not visible in radiographs are easily seen with arthroscopy.


Arthroscopy requires practice and lots of skill to "triangulate" effectively within a joint and make the visual connection to a video screen.

Problems not involving the cartilage joint surface may not be visible with an arthroscope.

your role

Questions To Ask Your Vet:
  • What are the risks of general anesthesia?
  • Is this diagnostic likely to change prognosis and treatment plan?
  • Can treatment be performed simultaneously?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP