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Clinical, Magnetic Resonance, and Sonographic Imaging Findings in Horses with Proximal Plantar Metatarsal Pain

Labens R., Schramme M.C., Robertson I.D., et al.

Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound, 2010. 51(1): p.11-18.

Sonography is commonly used for diagnosis of desmopathy of the proximal part of the suspensory ligament in horses. However, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging has been stated to be superior for detecting disease and localizing lesions. In this retrospective study of 39 horses or 46 hind limbs with lameness due to proximal plantar metatarsal pain, the clinical and diagnostic findings are discussed and sonography and MR imaging compared for examination of the proximal part of the suspensory ligament. With MR imaging interpreted as the clinical gold standard, desmopathy of the proximal part of the suspensory ligament was diagnosed in 21 hind limbs, proximal plantar metatarsal pain of unknown cause in 12, an osseous injury at the origin of the suspensory ligament in four and a condition unrelated to the suspensory ligament in nine. Based on these findings, sonography had a sensitivity of 0.77 and 0.66 and specificity of 0.33 and 0.31 for diagnosing proximal suspensory desmopathy and for accurately localizing lesions, respectively. MR imaging changes consistent with proximal suspensory desmopathy were signal hyperintensities and an increase in cross-sectional area compared with the contralateral limb. Anesthesia of the deep branch of the lateral plantar nerve is not specific neither for proximal suspensory desmopathy, as conditions unrelated to the suspensory ligament were diagnosed, nor for diagnosis of proximal plantar metatarsal pain, as conditions outside the proximal plantar metatarsal region were also diagnosed.