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Professional Version

Carpal Hygroma in Cattle


Paul R. Greenough

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

Last review/revision Sep 2015 | Modified Oct 2022

Carpal hygroma is a localized swelling of tissues, including the precarpal bursa, dorsal to the carpal joint. It results from intermittent mild trauma to the precarpal area caused by lack of bedding or a poorly designed manger. Brucella abortus may be isolated from the false bursa of some cases in countries where this organism has not been controlled. The lesion is a firm swelling, possibly fluctuating and up to several inches in diameter, located over the dorsal aspect of the carpus. The hygroma is a lesion that is very difficult to resolve. The first step is to ascertain radiographically whether there is more than one cavity. Each cavity should be drained and infiltrated with a long-acting corticosteroid preparation. Surgical removal is messy, with little guarantee of a successful outcome. Introducing irritant materials into the cavity has had uncertain results. If the animal is milking and eating well, hygromas should be left untreated.

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