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Supraspinous Bursitis, Fistulous Withers in Horses

Chronic draining infections of the dorsal spinous processes of horses are called 'fistulous withers'. BRUCELLA ABORTUS has traditionally been associated with this lesion but most affected horses are BRUCELLA-negative when they come from an area with little bovine Brucellosis. STREPTOCOCCUS ZOOEPIDEMICUS is a common isolate. A foreign body in the withers area should be ruled out.

Fistulous withers.
Courtesy of Dr. Thomas Lane

Additional information

Fistulous withers and poll evil are rare, inflammatory conditions of horses that differ essentially only in their location in the respective supraspinous or supra-atlantal bursae. This discussion is of fistulous withers but, except for anatomic details, also applies to poll evil. In the early stage of the disease, a fistula is not present. When the bursal sac ruptures or when it is opened for surgical drainage, and secondary infection with pyogenic bacteria occurs, it usually assumes a true fistulous character.

Fistulous withers.
Courtesy of Dr. Thomas Lane
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