Abnormal Imaging Findings of the Femoral Third Trochanter in 20 Horses

This article in Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasounddiscusses imaging options for the femoral third trochanter. This article was published by researchers and veterinarians from the University of California, Davis.


Injuries involving the femoral third trochanter are an uncommon but important source of equine lameness; however, clinical localization can be challenging. The purpose of this retrospective study was to describe ultrasonographic and scintigraphic findings in a group of horses with presumed third trochanter injury. Medical records of an equine referral hospital were searched from 2004–2014, and 20 horses met the inclusion criteria. Lesions consistent with third trochanter fracture were identified with ultrasound in 14/20 horses. Onset of lameness was acute (11), insidious (2), or unknown (1). All but one horse was lame at presentation, ranging from Grade 2–4/5. Ultrasound was the primary diagnostic modality in 5/14 horses with fragmentation, while scintigraphic findings of intense (3), moderate (5), and mild (1) increased radiopharmaceutical uptake (IRU) prompted ultrasonographic examinations in 9/14 fractured horses. A nondisplaced fracture was suspected in an additional horse with intense IRU and negative ultrasound findings. In the remaining five horses, imaging findings included only mild IRU. Lameness was localized to other regions in these cases. Six of 12 fractured horses with available outcome data were returned to function after a prolonged rehabilitation of 8–18 months. Scintigraphic findings helped to direct focused ultrasound exams in the majority of fracture cases. Horses with evidence of third trochanter fracture had similar clinical characteristics to that reported for pelvic fractures and authors therefore recommend ultrasonographic examination of both regions, especially when scintigraphy is unavailable. Prognosis for return to function in horses of the current study was less favorable than previously reported.


Georgette E. Shields, William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, University of California, Davis; Mary Beth Whitcomb, Betsy Vaughan, and Erik R. Wisner, Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, University of California, Davis.

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