Differences in second-intention wound healing between horses and ponies: macroscopic aspects

J M Wilmink, P W Stolk, P R van Weeren, A Barneveld
Equine Veterinary Journal 1999, 31 (1): 53-60
Second-intention healing of deep wounds was studied in 5 horses and 5 ponies. Standardised wounds were created on the distal limbs and hind quarters. Wounds on the metatarsi extended onto the metatarsal bone; the depth of the wounds in the femoral biceps muscle was 18 mm. The wound margins were marked by tattoos. Photographs were taken at weekly intervals to determine the wound area. The relative contribution of contraction and epithelialisation to wound closure was quantified by means of the tattoos. Swelling of the limbs was measured; and regularity and aspect of the granulation tissue were semi-quantitatively scored. Second-intention wound healing occurred significantly faster in ponies than in horses, and muscle wounds healed significantly faster than metatarsal wounds. These marked differences reflected the greater contribution of contraction to wound healing. Moreover, demarcation was seen earlier and a healthy granulation bed developed more rapidly in ponies, whereas in horses the granulation tissue remained irregular and purulent for longer. Healing of the metatarsal wounds of horses differed markedly from that of all other wounds: these wounds increased to almost twice their original size in the first 2 weeks, exuberant granulation tissue was persistent, epithelialisation started later, and contraction played a minor role in wound closure. Limb swelling was greater in horses than in ponies. Periosteal new bone formation was more extensive, and was active over a longer period in the metatarsal bones of horses than of ponies. From this study it is concluded that second-intention healing of deep wounds occurs faster in ponies than in horses. This difference can be largely attributed to a more pronounced and faster wound contraction in ponies than in horses. Therefore, attempts to improve second-intention wound healing in clinical practice should be directed at stimulation of wound contraction.

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