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Greyhound: tarsal fractures



  • Fractures to the tarsus account for approximately 60% of all fractures in the racing Greyhound Greyhound: racing injuries - overview.
  • They are found almost exclusively in the right tarsus and occur on the bends.
    Note percentages quoted are extrapolated from the authors data of 107 Greyhound tarsal fractures and are approximated to the nearest 5%.


  • The tarsus is composed of seven bones with the central tarsal bone (CTB) articulating with all the other bones.
  • The weight bearing axis is on the medial aspect of the tarsus and runs from the tibia, through the talus, central tarsal bone, second (T2) and third tarsal (T3) bones onto the metatarsus (Ness, 2008).
  • The proximal articulation is the talo-crural joint and has a wide range of motion. The proximal intertarsal joints (calcaneo-quartal and the talo-central) have about 15 degrees of motion. The centrodistal and tarsometatarsal joints are low motion joints.
  • The plantar aspect of the joint is supported by the very strong plantar ligaments that have their origins on the distal calcaneus and the plantar process of the talus. These ligaments attach to the plantar processes of the other tarsal bones to insert on the proximal metatarsus.
  • The plantar aspect of the tarsus is supported by the plantar fibrocartilage and is in tension.


  • When running the bends the medial weight bearing axis of the tarsus is subjected to compressive and rotational forces. In addition the aspect of the limbs nearest the inside of the track is in compression (the right medial tarsus as the dogs always race in an anticlockwise direction). The combination of the two similar forces is the reason why the right tarsus is primarily affected.
  • As a result of the additional stresses placed on the medial aspect of the right tarsus adaptive remodelling occurs in the central, third and second tarsal bones and third metatarsal bone. These bones have a higher bone mass density than the same bones in the contralateral limb.
  • Fracture occurs when the remodelling is insufficient to counteract the stresses placed on the bones.

Central tarsal bone fractures

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Ness M G (2008) Metatarsal III fractures in the racing greyhound. JSAP 34 (2), 85-89 VetMedResource.
  • Montavon P M, Dee J F & Weiss R (1993) Distal tibial articular fractures in the racing Greyhounds: a review of six cases. Vet Comp Orthop Traumatol (3), 146-152 VetMedResource.
  • Ost P C, Dee J F, Dee L G et al (1987) Fractures of the calcaneus in racing greyhounds. Vet Surg 16 (1), 53-59 PubMed.
  • Boudrieau R J, Dee J F & Dee L G (1984) Central tarsal bone fractures in the racing Greyhound: A review of 114 cases. JAVMA 184 (12), 1486-1491 PubMed.
  • Boudrieau R J, Dee J F & Dee L G (1984) Treatment of central tarsal bone fractures in the racing Greyhound: A review of 114 cases. JAVMA 184 (12), 1492-1500 PubMed.

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