Surgical repair of rib fractures in 14 neonatal foals: Case selection, surgical technique and results

F. Bellezzo, R. J. Hunt, P. Provost, F. T. Bain, C. Kirker-Head

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Reasons for performing study: Fractured ribs are encountered quite frequently in newborn Thoroughbred foals, often with fatal outcome. Surgical repair of fractures therefore requires consideration as a means of reducing mortality. Objectives: To evaluate the repair of rib fractures using internal fixation techniques in foals at 2 different equine hospitals following similar diagnostics and case selection. Methods: The records of 14 foals that underwent internal fixation of fracture ribs were reviewed. Subject details, clinical presentation, diagnosis, surgical technique, post operative care and complications were recorded. Follow-up information was obtained in 7 foals. Results: The fractured ribs were reduced and stabilised using reconstruction plate(s), self-tapping cortical screws and cerclage wire in 12 cases, Steinmann pins and cerclage wires in 1 case and both techniques in 1 case. Not every rib was reduced on each case. Surgical reduction was performed on an average of 2 ribs, range 1-3 ribs in each foal. At the time of writing, 4 foals had been sold, one age 2 years was in training and 2 others died from unrelated causes. Conclusions: Our data support the use of surgical stabilisation utilising reconstruction plates, self-tapping cortical screws and cerclage wire for selected cases of thoracic trauma in neonatal foals. The use of Steinmann pins may be suboptimal due to cyclic failure, implant migration and the potential for iatrogenic internal thoracic trauma. Potential relevance: Foals with existing extensive internal thoracic trauma resulting from rib fracture(s), or the potential for such trauma, previously considered to have a guarded to poor prognosis for survival, may be successfully managed with internal fixation of selected fracture sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-562
Number of pages6
JournalEquine veterinary journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Foal
  • Fracture
  • Horse
  • Neonatal
  • Rib
  • Surgical


Dive into the research topics of 'Surgical repair of rib fractures in 14 neonatal foals: Case selection, surgical technique and results'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this