Deep Digital Flexor Tendonitis In The Equine Foot Diagnosed By Low-Field Magnetic Resonance Imaging In The Standing Patient: 18 Cases

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Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2005;46:458-466.

Injury to the distal aspects of the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) is an important cause of lameness in horses. The purpose of this study was to review the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings of 18 horses affected by DDFT injuries in the foot. The MRI was performed with the horses standing using an open low-field (0.21†T) MRI scanner. The results were compared with those previously reported for horses using high-field MRI. Eighteen of 84 horses (21%) with undiagnosed forefoot pain were found to have lesions affecting the DDFT. The history, clinical findings and results of radiography, diagnostic ultrasonography and nuclear scintigraphy of these horses were reviewed. The duration of lameness ranged from 1 to 12 months, and the severity varied from 1/10 to 6/10. Fifteen horses had unilateral lameness (right fore in nine, left fore in six), whereas three horses were bilaterally foreleg lame. Radiological changes, considered of equivocal significance, were found in six of 18 horses. Ultrasonographic changes involving the DDFT were identified in only one of nine horses. DDFT lesions were detected in both T1- and T2-weighted MRI sequences. Four different types of lesions were identified: core lesions, sagittal splits, dorsal border lesions, and insertional lesions. Combinations of different lesion types within the same horse were common. The types and locations of the DDFT lesions were similar to those previously reported using high-field MRI. The use of low-field standing MRI avoids the necessity for general anesthesia and access to conventional high-field MRI scanners. However, studies comparing the results of standing low-field MRI with high-field MRI (and other imaging procedures) are required before the sensitivity and specificity of the technique can be assessed.