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Ultrasonographic Findings in Horses with Foot Pain but without Radiographically Detectable Osseous Abnormalities

Rabba S., Bolen G., Verwilghen D., et al.

Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound, 2011. 52(1): p.95-102.

Foot pain is an important cause of lameness in horses. When horses with foot pain have no detectable radiographic abnormalities, soft-tissue assessment remains a diagnostic challenge without magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. Ultrasonography can provide an alternative to MR imaging when that modality is not available but the extent of changes that might be seen has not been characterized. We reviewed the ultrasonographic findings in 39 horses with lameness responding positively to anesthesia of the palmar digital nerves and without radiographically detectable osseous abnormalities. Thirty of the 39 horses had lesions affecting the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT), 27 had abnormalities in the distal interphalangeal joint of which six had a visible abnormality in the collateral ligament. Ultrasonographic abnormalities were seen in the podotrochlear bursa in 22 horses and in the ligaments of the navicular bone in two horses. Abnormalities of the navicular bone flexor surface were detected in eight horses. In three of the 39 horses, only the DDFT was affected. The other 36 horses had ultrasonographic abnormalities in more than one anatomical structure. Based on our results, ultrasonographic examination provides useful diagnostic information in horses without radiographic changes.