Subchondral bone cysts

Veterinary advice should be sought before applying any treatment or vaccine.

Subchondral Bone Cysts

Subchondral Cystic Lesions, Osseous Cyst-like Lesions

Subchondral bone cysts (SBCs), also known as subchondral cystic lesions, are a form of developmental orthopedic disease. SBCs are a significant cause of performance-limiting lameness in young horses.

SBCs are signs of osteochondrosis and consist of round cavities in the bone that may or may not involve the joint surfaces. When it does involve the joint, it occurs near the surface of the stifle, fetlock, pastern, shoulder, elbow, coffin, and/or carpus joints. There are many predictions on the cause--which include trauma to the cartilage or subchondral bone, chronic osteoarthritis and inflammation, or leakage of synovial fluid through an articular defect.

There are many different treatments available for SBCs, however recurrence and treatment failure rates are unacceptably high.




  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiography



Intraarticular injections
Systemic joint therapies
Stall rest
Cystic debridement
Intra-cystic injection with corticosteroids
Cancellous bone grafting
Mosaic arthroplasty
Placement of chondrocytes or mesenchymal stem cells in fibrin glue
Arthroscopic debridement for MFC cysts



Dependent on the location of the lesion, the age at which it occurs and what kind of activity the horse is expected to perform.

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