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Interdigital Hyperplasia in Cattle



Paul R. Greenough

, FRCVS, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Last full review/revision Sep 2015 | Content last modified Apr 2016
Topic Resources

Etiology and Pathogenesis:

In heavy beef breeds, the condition is thought to result from stretching of the insertions of the distal interphalangeal ligament. The claws splay, and the interdigital skin is stretched. When not involved in weight bearing, the skin folds outward and subcutaneous scar tissue develops. In these cases, a mass tends to develop in the axis of the interdigital space. The mass may become so large that it touches the ground and may become necrotic. There may be a heritable disposition in some breeds such as Herefords.

Corns are reported frequently in dairy cows when their feet are continually exposed to slurry, chronic irritation, or have interdigital dermatitis. Organization of areas of irritated skin on one side or other of the dorsal commisure accounts for development of corns in dairy cows.

Interdigital hyperplasia affects forelimbs. Lameness results more often than not. As the lesion becomes larger, its surface may become excoriated, sore, and infected.


In simple cases, treatment may be unnecessary. For surgical removal, the animal should be sedated, and dorsal and flexor regional nerve blocks administered (see Distal Digital Anesthesia for Diagnostic and Surgical Procedures in Cattle Distal Digital Anesthesia for Diagnostic and Surgical Procedures in Cattle Sites for nerve block in the metacarpal and digital areas in cattle. For distal digital analgesia (used for surgical or diagnostic procedures), the dorsal site is located on the dorsal axis... read more Distal Digital Anesthesia for Diagnostic and Surgical Procedures in Cattle ). Surgery can be performed with the animal standing or in lateral recumbency. After preparation of the surgical site, a tourniquet is applied and the claws separated manually or with retractors. The mass is removed, leaving as much of the interdigital skin as possible. If any fat protrudes when the claws are pressed together, it should be removed. Care must be taken to avoid cutting deep structures such as the distal interphalangeal ligament. After surgery, the wound should be dressed with an antibiotic powder and the claws bandaged closely together. Some field reports suggest considerable success with wiring the toe together. Movement of the wound or separation of the claws must be avoided until ~10 days after surgery. Cryosurgery is also an option.

Lameness in Cattle
Overview of Lameness in Cattle
Physical Examination of a Lame Cow
Locomotion Scoring in Cattle
Computerized Recording of Digital Lesions in Cattle
Distal Digital Anesthesia for Diagnostic and Surgical Procedures in Cattle
Radiography in Cattle
Arthrocentesis and Arthroscopy in Cattle
Risk Factors Involved in Herd Lameness of Cattle
Footbaths of Cattle
Functional Claw Trimming of Cattle
Prevalent Lameness Disorders in Intensively Managed Herds of Cattle
Digital Dermatitis in Cattle
Pododermatitis Circumscripta in Cattle
White Line Disease in Cattle
Toe Necrosis Syndrome in Cattle
Sole Hemorrhage in Cattle
Thin Sole in Cattle
Heel Erosion in Cattle
Other Disorders of the Interdigital Space in Cattle
Interdigital Dermatitis in Cattle
Interdigital Phlegmon in Cattle
Interdigital Hyperplasia in Cattle
Disorders of the Horn Capsule and Corium in Cattle
Laminitis in Cattle
Double Sole in Cattle
Foreign Body in Sole of Cattle
Vertical Fissures in Cattle
Horizontal Fissures in Cattle
Corkscrew Claw in Cattle
Slipper Foot in Cattle
Disorders of the Bones and Joints in Cattle
Ankylosing Spondylosis in Cattle
Degenerative Arthropathy in Cattle
Coxofemoral Luxation in Cattle
Patellar Luxation in Cattle
Fetlock Dislocation in Cattle
Hip Dysplasia in Cattle
Fractures in Cattle
Septic Arthritis of the Distal Interphalangeal Joint in Cattle
Serous Tarsitis in Cattle
Neurologic Disorders Associated with Lameness or Gait Abnormalities in Cattle
Suprascapular Paralysis in Cattle
Radial Paralysis in Cattle
Ischiatic Paralysis in Cattle
Obturator Paralysis in Cattle
Femoral Paralysis in Cattle
Peroneal Paralysis in Cattle
Tibial Paralysis in Cattle
Spastic Syndrome in Cattle
Spastic Paresis in Cattle
Soft-tissue Disorders Causing Lameness in Cattle
Carpal Hygroma in Cattle
Rupture of the Gastrocnemius Muscle in Cattle
Rupture of the Peroneus Tertius Muscle in Cattle
Tarsal Cellulitis in Cattle
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