Dr. Baker evaluated Mr. Fantasy and radiographs showed that he has bone chips in both front fetlock (ankle) joint. Both chips will need to be surgically removed. There were no large fractures in either joint.
As a part of pre-surgical protocol, Dr. Baker tested the joint fluid of both ankles. The joint cavity is filled with a thick, lubricating fluid. This thick, pale yellow fluid is called synovial fluid, and it bathes the joint whenever the horse moves. This synovial fluid is crucial to healthy joints, because it lubricates the joint’s soft tissue and provides nourishment to the cartilage, which does not have a blood supply of its own. Synovial fluid is made of large molecules of hyaluronic acid, tangled together to form a thick barrier that prevents inflammatory cells from gaining entrance to the joint. These molecules are a basic need for healthy joints.When a joint is stressed or traumatized, it often leads to damage of the synovial membrane and joint capsule. The damage to the tissue allows white blood cells to escape nearby blood vessels and invade the joint space.These white blood cells then release destructive substances which start to degrade the joint’s cartilage. Enzymes from the white blood cells also begin to break down the hyaluronic acid molecules. This results in synovial fluid that is thin and watery, and has poor cushioning and nourishing qualities.
Mr. Fantasy's joint fluid was "pretty good" according to Dr. Baker. There were some white blood cells in the fluid, but the levels were not significantly high. Because of this, he is optimistic that he will be able to go into the ankles and clean up the debris and have Mr. Fantasy return to a high level of competition. However, a definitive prognosis can not be made until he operates and assesses the amount of cartilage damage in the ankles. Dr. Baker has performed over 20,000 joint surgeries, so we are confident he will provide us with a clear picture of where we stand with our colt after the surgery.
Mr. Fantasy is scheduled to for surgery tomorrow at Woodford Equine Hospital. We will have a full report from Dr. Baker after the procedure.
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