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Arthrocentesis and Arthroscopy in Cattle


Paul R. Greenough

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

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

Arthroscopy enables visualization of the interior surfaces of a joint for diagnostic or surgical purposes. Arthrocentesis is a procedure by which synovial fluid may be removed from a joint for examination. Local anesthetic can be introduced to ascertain whether painful lesions are present in the joint. Intra-articular therapy permits medication to be deposited into the joint. Because this procedure may be painful, a nerve block at a higher level is recommended.

For the distal interphalangeal joint, the needle is inserted lateral to the common or long extensor tendon, which inserts into the extensor process of the distal phalanx. The entry point is just proximal to the coronary band. For the pastern joint (proximal interphalangeal joint), the needle is inserted lateral to the extensor tendon. For the fetlock joint (metacarpophalangeal or metatarsophalangeal joint), the needle is directed downward close to the bone and between it and the interosseous (suspensory) ligament. The joint can also be entered from the dorsal surface in a similar manner to the distal joints; however, the flexor pouch is more capacious than the dorsal one. For the digital synovial sheath (sheath of the deep flexor tendon), the needle is directed downward behind the interosseous ligament.

For the stifle joint, it is advisable to use two sites because in some animals the lateral femorotibial compartment may not communicate with the rest of the joint. The first site is close behind the lateral patellar ligament (lateral femorotibial compartment), and the needle should be directed caudally. The needle is inserted in the second site between the medial and middle patellar ligaments and directed slightly down and toward the large medial lip of the trochlea (femoropatellar and medial femorotibial compartments).

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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Musculoskeletal Disorders in Large Animals
A seven-year-old Quarter horse gelding presents with a 1-week history of mild lameness. During the examination, the horse raises his head as he places weight on his left forelimb and drops it when placing weight on the right forelimb. Which limb is most likely affected in this horse?
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