How to treat non-healing claw lesions

By Steve Mason on

Non-healing (nh) bovine hoof horn lesions, characterized by penetration of the horn capsule and association with white line disease (nhWLD) and sole ulcers (nhSU), are frequently encountered in dairy herds endemically affected by digital dermatitis (DD). The exposed corium is often infected with Treponemes, the bacteria most commonly associated with DD. In contrast to the more common types of DD, nhWLD and nhSU are associated with more severe lameness, often leading to claw amputation or slaughter and they respond poorly to standard DD treatment.

Researchers in Austria recently described a successful therapy for lesions of this type. In 35 cows with 42 nhWLD or nhSU lesions, loose horn and infected corium was completely removed under regional anaesthesia (see photos below), followed by topical application of tetracycline spray and bandaging. By 28 days after treatment, 27/42 (64%) nhWLD and nhSU were completely covered by a new horn layer; this increased to 30/42 (71%) that had healed by 38 days.

The full report of this work is available here.

Non-healing white line disease on the lateral claw of a right hindlimb before treatment.

Non-healing white line disease on the lateral claw of a right hindlimb before treatment.

nhWLD lesion with an attached wooden block on the medial claw, after removal of all the loose wall horn with a hoof knife

nhWLD lesion with an attached wooden block on the medial claw, after removal of all the loose wall horn with a hoof knife.

nhWLD lesion after surgical excision of the infected corium layer.

nhWLD lesion after surgical excision of the infected corium layer.

One comment

  1. As the lesions that were seen on the farm did not resemble footrot, the diagnosis after clinical examination remained unclear. Footrot, treponeme infection, laminitis and primary claw horn lesions with secondary infections were still considered as possible diagnoses. Additional diagnostics were carried out in order to differentiate further.

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