Where the opinion has been formed that a prick has been received, then the shoe should be removed.

This operation should always be superintended by the veterinary surgeon himself. After the removal of the clinches, the nails should be drawn one at a time with the pincers, and carefully examined. Often the offending nail may thus be picked out by observing upon it blood-stains, or the moisture from inflammatory exudate or from pus. Further inflammation will also be gathered by occasionally meeting with a nail that has split.

At this stage, too, the veterinary surgeon should have noticed whether or not the smith has previously sent the animal home with what is known as a 'draw back.' He has discovered, immediately after he has done it, that he has pricked the animal. He has then withdrawn the nail, and either sent the animal back with that nail altogether missing from the set in the shoe, or with the hole filled up with a stump.

The shoe once off, the holes made by the nails in the horn should be minutely examined for the presence of haemorrhage, inflammatory fluid, or pus exuding from them, and also for evidence of their correct placing in the foot. Should fluid matter issue from any one of them, or should it be deemed that one has approached too near the inner margin of the white line, more especially if tenderness exists around it, that hole should be followed up with a 'searcher' or small drawing-knife until diagnosis is certain.

Complications. - Before proceeding to discuss the complications that may arise in the case of pricked foot, we may call to mind that the anatomy of the parts teaches us that the most serious position in which a punctured wound can occur is at the centre of the foot. Here the plantar aponeurosis, the navicular bursa, the navicular bone itself, or the pedal articulation may be injured.

Anterior to this position the most serious mischief that can ordinarily result is stabbing of the os pedis.

Posterior to the position we have named, the only structure to be injured is the plantar cushion.

Anatomically, then, the inferior surface of the foot may be divided into three zones, as follows:

A. Anterior, extending from the toe to the point of the frog.

B. Middle, extending from the point of the frog to the commencement of its median lacuna.

C. Posterior, including everything posterior to the middle zone. This division of the inferior surface of the foot into zones will be somewhat of a guide also when describing the complications next to follow:

(a) Suppuration. - This is the common complication of most wounds of the foot. When detected, it calls for immediate surgical interference in the shape of removal of the horn of the sole or the frog, as the case may be. This we shall consider further under the treatment.

(b) Separation of the Horny Frog. - This is a sequel to pus formation in the sensitive structures immediately beneath it, and the condition makes itself apparent by a line of separation between the horn and the skin of the heel of the injured side.

(c) Wounding of the Plantar Aponeurosis. - This occurs when a moderately-deep penetration of the horn of the middle zone has taken place. It is always most painful, especially when complicated by necrosis. The heel is then persistently elevated, and lameness is extreme, in some cases so severe as to cause the leg to be carried altogether.

In favourable cases the necrosed piece of tendon is sloughed off by the process of suppuration, and escapes with the discharges from the wound. There is then an abatement in the symptoms, and recovery is rapid.

Commonly, however, on account of the non-vascularity of the structure of the tendon, the necrotic spot in it tends to spread. The wound is thus led to become fistulous in character, and the pus forming within it prevented from escaping from the original opening. As a result, lameness and fever persist. There is a gradual increase in the severity of the symptoms, and later fistulous openings appear in the hollow of the heel.

(d) Puncture of the Navicular Bursa. - This results from a prick in exactly the same position as that last described, and means that the penetrating object has gone deeper, It may be distinguished from puncture of the plantar aponeurosis alone by the fact that there is an excessive discharge of synovia from the wound. This, as it escapes, is at first clear and straw-coloured. Later it becomes cloudy and flaked with pus, and shows a tendency to coagulate in yellowish clots.

Pain and accompanying fever is most marked, much more so than when the plantar aponeurosis alone is injured.

Should the original wound be insufficiently enlarged, or should its opening become occluded by the solid matters of the discharge, then this condition, like the last, ends in the formation of fistulous openings in the heel. These make their appearance as hot, painful, and fluctuating swellings in that position. Later they break, discharge their contents, and leave a fistulous track behind.

(e) Fracture of the Navicular Bone. - Penetration of the substance of the navicular bone, without its fracture, adds nothing to the symptoms we have described under puncture of the bursa. That the bone has been reached by the penetrating object may be detected by probing. This, however, must be performed with care, especially if a flow of synovia is absent. Otherwise, the wound, as yet, perhaps, superficial enough to avoid penetrating even the bursa, is made a penetrating one by the probe itself.

Fracture of the navicular bone is fortunately rare.

(f) Penetration of the Pedal Articulation and Arthritis. - This we shall consider in greater detail in Chapter XII (Diseases Of The Joints[A]). It is sufficient here to state that the condition may be suspected when a hot and painful swelling of the whole coronet makes its appearance. There is at the same time a diffused oedema of the fetlock and the region of the cannon, sometimes extending upwards to the whole of the limb.

Of all the complications to be met with in punctured foot this is the one most to be dreaded. The intense pain and the high fever render the animal weak and thin in the extreme. The appetite becomes impaired, sometimes altogether lost, and the patient in many cases appears to die from sheer exhaustion. Added to this is always the extreme probability of the wound becoming purulent, and later the dread of general septic infection of the blood-stream ensuing, and death resulting from that. Even with the happier ending of resolution, anchylosis of the joint and incurable lameness is more often than not left behind. (See Suppurative or Purulent Arthritis, Chapter XII (Diseases Of The Joints[A]).)