Wednesday, November 02, 2005

SCOTT MORRISON: Podiatry Referral Specialist

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY—Scott Morrison, DVM, of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital heads a podiatry clinic that specializes in the treatment of laminitis. Some of the leading treatment options and products that will be used around the world in months to come are being tried and tested at Rood and Riddle this summer.

Dr. Morrison, who is also a farrier, goes to great lengths to help his patients find a comfortable way to stand. He experiments with new hoof boots with foam inserts make it easy for owners to keep horses barefoot and change dressings, soak the feet, apply medications and make alterations from day to day as the horse shows signs of pain or improvement.

Some of Rood and Riddle’s worst cases are referrals, or advanced cases that have not responded to treatment by their attending veterinarians and farriers. Many of these horses are broodmares and stallions crippled by the after-effects of laminitis, particularly abnormal tendons and bone infections inside the foot. Morrison is adept at the procedure called deep digital flexor tenotomy, which severs the main tendon in the back of the foot and allows the hoof capsule and bones to return to a normal angle with the ground. Special aluminum shoes or boots are used to keep the horses comfortable while the tendon heals.

Bone infections in the foot, sometimes related to chronic abscesses and dead tissue, are one of the most serious threats to a horse’s life. Many deformed laminitic feet also have compromised blood flow, and normal medications may not be delivered through the blood system. Morrison enlists some unlikely allies in the cleaning out of infected tissue in the foot; he uses a state-of-the-art—but based on centuries old—technique of inserting tiny sterile fly maggots into the infected area. These specially-bred insect larvae, supplied by the University of California’s medical school, eat only infected tissue and do a superb job of cleaning wounds. When they are full-grown and can eat no more, they are flushed out, and new ones are added as needed.

Next on Morrison’s list of techniques to perfect is grafting tissue in the horse’s foot. He currently is testing the punch biopsy technique to transplant tissue to stimulate growth of the frog, and hopes to perfect the technique and expand applications.

Some of this text may have appeared in the article "Laminitis Battle Stations" in a recent edition of Practical Horseman magazine.