Fig. 124.   Longitudinal Section Of A Foot With Laminitis Of Three Weeks' Standing

Fig. 124. - Longitudinal Section Of A Foot With Laminitis Of Three Weeks' Standing. On The Anterior Face Of The Cavity, In Front Of The Os Pedis, Are Thickened Horny Laminae. Due To The Sinking Of The Bony Column, The Os Pedis Has Perforated The Horny Sole.

Exploration with a director, or with the blade of a scalpel, removes from the opening a dry detritus. This is composed of the solid constituents of the escaped blood, the dried remains of the inflammatory exudate, and broken-down fragments of cheesy-looking horn. The size to which the cavity may sometimes extend is illustrated in Fig. 124. The thickened horny laminae forming the anterior boundary of the cavity are here depicted, together with commencing perforation of the horny sole by the os pedis. It is this cavity which, when opened at the bottom and discharging its mealy-looking contents, is known as seedy-toe, for a further description of which see p. 293.

The lameness occurring with chronic laminitis does not always persist. As time goes on the sensitive structures accommodate themselves to the altered form and conditions of the horny box. In certain situations - namely, where pressure is greatest - the softer structures become atrophied, and sometimes even wholly destroyed; while in other positions the changes in form of the hoof tend to increase in size of its interior, with a consequent diminution of pressure upon, and increased growth of the structures within it.

Pathological Anatomy. - In detailing the changes to be observed in chronic laminitis, we take up the description where we left it when dealing with the pathological anatomy of the acute form. The alterations to be met with are best observed by taking a foot so diseased and making of it two sections - one longitudinal, from before backwards; the other horizontal, and in such a position as to cut the os pedis through at its centre.

These sections will expose to view the cavity formed by the pouring out of the exudate, and its full extent may be noticed by examining the sections alternately. Taking the horizontal section first, it will be seen that the hollow space extends wholly round the toe, and as far back as the commencement of the quarters. In the latter position one is able to observe laminae still in their normal positions and condition. At the toe, however, the horny and secretive laminae are widely separated, and the space between them filled with a yellow, semi-solid material, the remains of the inflammatory exudate and new horn secreted by the keratogenous membrane. The laminae, both horny and sensitive, are greatly enlarged. This is a hypertrophy, resulting from the continued effects of the inflammation, and leads in time to the formation of laminae quite three or four times their normal size. It is this hypertrophy of the laminae and the pressure of the exudate that causes the bulging and increased growth of the horn at the toe (see Fig. 125), and contributes towards the oval formation of the foot we have mentioned before.

Fig. 125.   Longitudinal Section Of A Foot With Laminitis Of Several Years' Duration

Fig. 125. - Longitudinal Section Of A Foot With Laminitis Of Several Years' Duration.

In the longitudinal section the first thing noticeable is the change in position of the bones, more especially in that of the os pedis. The circumstances we have mentioned before - pressure of the exudate upon it in front and tension of the perforans on it behind - have caused it to assume a more upright position than is normal, so much so that in a bad case the front of the bone becomes quite vertical. This vicious direction the other bones of the digit follow (see Fig. 125).

Consequent upon the displacement of the bone, the plantar cushion, by reason of the continued pressure thus put upon it, becomes atrophied, while its hinder half is, as it were, squeezed into taking up a position more posterior and higher in the digit than normally it should. The horn-secreting papillae covering its inferior face thus become directed backwards sooner than downwards, in which way we account in some measure for the noticeable increase of horn at the heels.

Treatment. - Chronic laminitis is incurable. Treatment must therefore be directed towards the palliation of such conditions as are present, with the object of rendering the the animal better able to perform work. When perforation of the sole has occurred, with the attendant formation of pus and necrosis of the os pedis, it is doubtful whether treatment of any kind is advisable. There are on record cases of this description, where careful curetting of the exposed and necrotic portions and the after application of antiseptic dressings, held in position by a plate shoe or a leather sole, has been followed by good results, and the animal restored for a time to labour. In our opinion, however, early slaughter is the most economical course to adopt, and certainly the wisest advice to give to the ordinary client.

When perforation of the sole is absent, and when serious alteration in the shape of the horny box has not occurred, then the most simple treatment is to put the animal straight away to slow work, with the feet protected by suitable shoes.

Here, again, the most useful shoe is the Rocker Bar (Fig. 119). The broad web and deep seating gives ample protection to the convex sole, and with the ease in distributing his weight that this shoe affords the animal is able to perform slow work on soft lands with some degree of comfort.

Should the growth of the horn at the toe and at the heels be unduly excessive, then our attention may be directed towards reducing it to some approach to the normal. This is accomplished by removing with the rasp and the knife those portions indicated by the dotted lines in Fig. 127. Here it will be seen that the bulk of the horn removed is that protruding at the toe. After this the animal should again be suitably shod. In this connection it should be noted that the fact of the animal walking largely on the heels tends to a forward displacement of the shoe. This must be prevented by providing each heel of the shoe with a clip, after the manner shown in Fig. 128; or, in the case of a bar shoe, supplying it with a clip at the centre of the bar.

Fig. 126.   Diagram Illustrating The Abnormal Growth Of Horn At The Toe And Heels Of The Foot With Chronic Laminitis

Fig. 126. - Diagram Illustrating The Abnormal Growth Of Horn At The Toe And Heels Of The Foot With Chronic Laminitis.

Fig. 127.   The Same Foot As In Fig

Fig. 127. - The Same Foot As In Fig. 126. The Dotted Lines Show The Excess Of Horn Removed Preparatory To Shoeing.

Among other treatments to be noted we may mention one or two to be found chiefly in Continental works on this subject.

The method of Gross consists in thinning down with a rasp about 1-1/2 inches of the horn of the wall immediately below the coronet, the thinned portion extending from heel to heel. The groove made is filled with basilicon ointment,[A] and the coronet stimulated with a cantharides ointment, In this way there is induced to grow from the coronet a new wall of nearly normal dimensions.

[Footnote A: Basilicon ointment is made by heating together resin 8 parts, beeswax 8 parts, olive oil 8 parts, and lard 6 parts. Allow to cool without stirring.]

By other operators (Bayer, Imminger, Meyer, and Gunther) this treatment has been modified by enlarging upon it and removing the whole of the adventitious horn.

Fig. 128.   The Shoe With Heel Clip

Fig. 128. - The Shoe With Heel-Clip.

This is done by means of the drawing-knife and the rasp, the ugly-looking pumiced foot being carefully cut and trimmed until, so far as outward appearances are concerned, it is perfectly normal. This done, the whole foot is treated with a suitable hoof ointment, and a shoe applied that affords protection to the sole without imposing pressure upon it. The shoe indicated is either an ordinary shoe with an unusually broad and well-seated web, or the seated Rocker Bar of Broad. With either it is well to additionally protect the sole by means of a leather or rubber pad and tar stopping, or by using the Huflederkitt described on p. 148. In every case the nails must be kept well back in order to avoid the weakened and degenerated horn at the toe, and to take advantage of the greater growth of horn at the heels.

The wisdom of thus removing the whole of the adventitious horn may be questioned. Although a foot of a nearly normal shape is obtained, it must be remembered that the grave alterations within it are unchanged, and that in certain positions the operation must have carried us nearer the sensitive structures than is advisable.

All other treatments failing, the operation of neurectomy has been advised. This we do not think wise. One would imagine that, with degenerative processes already going on in the foot, the tendency to gelatinous degeneration, always to be looked for in neurectomy, would be increased. This, as a matter of fact, is the case, and is borne out by the statements of those who have tried this method of treatment. In many cases the lameness even is not got rid of. Even where it is, the operation is afterwards followed by a great tendency to stumble, by sloughing of the hoof, or by a marked increase in the adventitious horn, and a consequent greater deformity of the foot.

Sooner than risk neurectomy, it seems to us wiser to give a trial to the operation advocated by M.G. Joly, namely, that of ligaturing one of the digital arteries on each affected foot. This operation is performed in the same position as is the higher operation of plantar neurectomy, and may be either internal or external. The vessel is exposed, and a double ligature, preferably of silk, placed on it. The artery is then divided between the two ligatures. The immediate effect of the operation is to cause a considerable diminution in the arterial pressure, and so lessen the intensity of the ostitis in the os pedis. Its consequences are not so serious as those of neurectomy, and it decongests tissues which neurectomy congests.

In cases related by M. Joly this operation, practised both in conjunction with removal of the excess of horn and without it, has resulted in a marked improvement in the gait, the animal going to work one month after the treatment, and remaining sound for some time afterwards.