This we shall consider under (a) Simple Acute Periostitis, (b) Suppurative Periostitis, (c) Osteoplastic Periostitis.
(a) Simple Acute Periostitis. - This is the periostitis that follows on the infliction of a slight injury to the membrane - an injury without an actual wound and free from infective material. It is one, therefore, which we always judge as existing in those cases where we have distinct evidence or history of injury, but in which the injury has not been severe enough to lead to fracture or to the infliction of an actual wound.
Such cases may be those of lamenesses persisting after violent blows upon the foot - cases where the animal has been kicking against the stable fittings, or where the foot has been partially passed over by the wheel of a waggon. It may be, too, that in a case of 'nail-bound' a great deal of the pain and lameness is due to a simple periostitis caused by pressure of the bulged inner-layer of horn upon the sensitive structures.
Simple acute periostitis may also occur in cases where an actual wound is in existence, but where such wound, fortunately, remains aseptic. We may thus have this condition accompanying ordinary cases of pricked foot, of treads in the anterior region of the coronet, and of accidental injuries of other kinds.
In simple acute periostitis the membrane is thicker and redder than normal, and is easily stripped from the bone. As it is pulled off it is noticed that there are numerous fibril-like processes hanging to its inner surface, and which draw out from the substance of the bone. These are simply the vessels (bloodvessels and nerves) which, loosened by the inflammatory exudate, are readily detached and drawn from the Haversian canals into which they normally run. In addition to its increased redness, the membrane has a swollen and gelatinous appearance owing to its infiltration with the inflammatory discharges. Simple acute periostitis may and often does end in resolution. On the other hand, it may end in suppuration or may become chronic. If the latter, then the osteoblasts of the innermost layer become active, and abnormal deposits of bone are the result.
(b) Suppurative Periostitis. - This condition simply indicates that the inflammation is complicated by the presence of pus organisms. It is, therefore, a common termination of the simple acute form attending the infliction of a wound. The wound becomes contaminated, and the case of simple periostitis is soon changed into the suppurative form. Once having gained entrance to the wound, the pus increases in quantity, and slowly runs between the membrane and the bone. This, however, it does not do to any large extent, showing rather a tendency to penetrate the outer fibrous layer and gain the outside of the membrane.
Suppurative periostitis is met with in foot cases, commonly in connection with punctured foot. It occurs, too, as a complication in suppurating corn, in severe tread, in complicated sand-crack, as a result of the spread of suppurative matter in acute coronitis, and in sub-horny quittor.
In ordinary cases of suppurative periostitis the pus formed is yellow in colour, creamy thick, and free from pronounced odour - the so-called 'laudable' pus of the older writers. It so happens in many cases of foot trouble, however, that putrefactive organisms gain entrance side by side with those of pus. In this case the characters of the discharge are very different. It is distinctly more fluid, is of a pink or even light chocolate colour, and extremely offensive. In these instances the pus shows a marked tendency to spread, strips the periosteum from the bone, perforates the outer layer of the membrane, and finally infiltrates the surrounding tissues.
This forms a near approach to what is known in human surgery as an infective periostitis, and in our subjects is nearly always met with in cases of severe prick. Its rapidly spreading character makes it always a dangerous condition, and a punctured foot exuding a discharge of this nature should always be regarded as serious. The close contiguity of the joint (it can never be far distant in foot cases), the spreading character of the disease, and the rapidity with which the horse succumbs to arthritis, are all factors to be taken into consideration, and to lead to a warning-note being struck when attending a case of such kind.
A further instance of infective periostitis is that met with in acute laminitis. The discharge obtained from the sole in these cases very often bears the character we have just described, and when one considers the thinness of the keratogenous membrane, one is bound to admit that changes so grave occurring in it cannot fail to spread and infect the periosteum.
(c) Osteoplastic Periostitis. - This is more particularly a chronic process, and is, as the suffix 'plastic' indicates, associated with bone-forming changes in the membrane. It may occur as a consequence of slight but continued irritation, often without ascertainable origin (see Case 2, p. 392), or it may be the sequel of acute disease.
In this form of periostitis the membrane is again swollen and more vascular than in health, and is also easily separable from the bone. The exposed bone is generally rough, in some cases even spicular, and the inner layer of the removed membrane is rough and gritty to the touch - characters imparted to it by numerous minute fragments of bone that have been torn away with it from the more compact osseous tissue beneath.
The results of an osteoplastic periostitis are frequently met with in the bones of the foot, and are described by veterinary writers under such headings as 'Pedal Exostoses,' 'Ossifying Ostitis,' and 'Pedal Ossification' (see Figs. 152, 153, 154, and 155). In many of these cases the disease is purely chronic, and the original cause nearly always wanting. When the foot has been subjected to laminitis of some weeks' duration, the same condition is also met with, being at the same time associated with rarefactive osteoplastic ostitis, conditions which we shall shortly describe. Cases we have examined have undoubtedly shown this condition of osteoplastic periostitis, the rarefactive and osteoplastic changes in the bone itself, met with in older cases, occurring no doubt as a result of non-expansion of the horny box. So far as we are able to ascertain, there is every reason to believe that in chronic laminitis the accompanying periostitis leads to the formation of bone, and would, if it were possible, lead to increase in the size of the os pedis. If proof were wanted of this, it is only necessary to point out the increased growth at points where resistance is nil - namely, along the upper margin of the bone (see Fig. 118). However, increase in size elsewhere is prevented by the resistance of the hoof, so that, as the bone-forming process progresses, as it inevitably must under the inflammatory changes going on, it is, as it were, compensated for by rarefaction or bone-absorption changes occurring simultaneously with it.