Nearly everyone has heard of ”scoping” — using a fiberoptic endoscope — to evaluate horses for head, throat and lung diseases. Scoping has also been used to investigate stomach problems, bladder problems and lung problems, even to explore the abdomen. One of the more recent uses has been to study hoof lameness.
A United Kingdom study published in the Equine Veterinary Journal describes how endoscopic examination through the navicular bursa can provide detailed information. A total of 20 horses with lameness localized to the hind foot were examined. All were found to have lesions in the deep digital flexor within the foot, some also with changes in the cartilage of the navicular bone. Endoscopy allowed the veterinarians to debride or ”clean up” areas of tissue damage. The most encouraging aspect of this study was the report that 11 of 15 horses available for six-month follow-up were sound, and nine of those had returned to full activity at six months.