Policy: Distal limb neurectomy of horses

Policy type: Policy
Status:  Current
Manual reference: 10c
Date ratified: May 2018

Position Statement

Distal limb neurectomy may be recommended and performed when other treatments have failed to correct the problem and the veterinarian’s professional opinion is that neurectomy is the only appropriate treatment for the existing clinical condition.


Surgical neurectomy is performed on horses suffering from chronic foot disease and where there is no response to corrective shoeing, medical therapy or other surgical procedures. Because neurectomy can result in proprioceptive and sensory complications, it is used when euthanasia is the only alternative.
During surgical neurectomy, which is performed under anaesthesia, the median or the palmar digital nerve is severed, a section of the nerve is removed (or chemical destruction of the nerve is performed) to desensitise the deeper structures of the foot.

In New Zealand, Thoroughbred Racing New Zealand, Harness Racing New Zealand, and the Equestrian Sport New Zealand deem it illegal to use a neurectomised horse for competition.


The decision to perform neurectomy, the potential post-operative sequelae, the rules of the appropriate body, and the required post-surgical management should be fully discussed with the owner prior to the procedure being performed. Ongoing veterinary checks are recommended.


Snyder JR. (2005) Selected lameness conditions in the performance horse. 27th Bain Fallon Memorial Lecture Series Proceedings.