Objectives - To describe a technique for collecting cancellous bone graft from the proximal humerus in horses. Study design - Prospective evaluation of an experimental bone graft collection technique Animal population - Eight horses, 3-15 years, weighing 495-605 kg. Methods - Horses were anesthetized and positioned in lateral recumbency. The lateral aspect of the proximal humerus was exposed by a 7-10-cm incision extending distally from the greater humeral tubercle, followed by sharp dissection through the omotransversarius muscle and between the infraspinatus and deltoideus muscles. A 12-mm cortical defect was incrementally created in the lateral proximal humerus. Human bone graft harvesting equipment (Acumed®, Beaverton, OR) was drilled through this defect to collect a core of cancellous bone. In five horses additional cancellous bone was then collected with conventional instruments. Bone samples were weighed and histologically examined. Horses were monitored and graded for quality of anesthetic recovery, incisional complications, and postoperative lameness. Results - Total mean (± SD) surgical time for harvesting bone with the Acumed® system and traditional techniques (n = 5) was 38 ± 6 minutes (range, 32-47 minutes). Mean cancellous bone weight collected with the Acumed® system was 3.6 ± 0.8 g (range, 2.0-4.6g), and cancellous bone collected conventionally was 25.6 ± 7.5 g (range, 16.8-34.2 g). Minimal incisional complications or postoperative lameness were observed. Mortality was 12.5%; one horse fractured the operated humerus during anesthetic recovery. Conclusion - The Acumed® system provided limited cancellous bone when used with the technique described. However, the quantity of cancellous bone collected with traditional harvesting instruments was comparable to other sites used in horses. The procedure was associated with minimal postoperative incisional complications or lameness, but because one horse suffered a catastrophic humeral fracture further research is required to assess the effects of this procedure on humeral breaking strength. Clinical Relevance - Based on the risk of catastrophic fracture, this technique cannot be recommended for use in clinical cases, especially if an unassisted recovery from general anesthesia is planned.
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