What’s your diagnosis?

A seven year old, gelding has a chronically sore back which started about two years ago. Rest and long, low lunging with side reins helped improve the soreness. However, it reoccurred about every two months. Saddle fit adjustment, phenylbutazone, topical treatments and electroacupuncture did not result in any improvement. Stretching exercises were also used.

What is your diagnosis and next steps/treatments?

The Saginaw Valley Equine Answer

Answer: Radiographs with markers confirmed that there were two affected sites of KISSING SPINES of the vertebrae in the back. The horse was prepped for standing surgery and an interspinous ligament desmotomy was performed. An incision was made at both affected sites to allow transection (releasing) of the interspinous ligament between the vertebrae using radiographic guidance. The more cranial (toward the head) space had a small amount of bone bridging, which hadn’t been evident on radiographs. The more caudal space (toward the tail) only had ligament between the dorsal spinous processes. The skin incisions were sutured and a bandage was placed for 24 hours. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory therapy were administered the day of and the day following surgery when the bandage was removed. A recheck examination will be at 6 weeks prior to resuming ridden exercise.