Desmitis of the straight sesamoidean ligament in horses: 9 cases (1995–1997)

Robert K. Schneider Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164.

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Russell L. Tucker Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164.

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Scott R. Habegger Present address is Inland Equine Veterinary Services, 11803 S Shermand Rd, Spokane, WA 99224.

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Jennifer Brown Present address is Veterinary Teaching Hospital, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.

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Charles W. Leathers Department of Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine clinical signs, diagnostic findings, and outcome for horses with desmitis of the straight sesamoidean ligament (SSL) near its insertion on the middle phalanx.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—9 horses.

Procedure—Medical records were reviewed, and information on signalment, history, clinical signs, diagnostic findings, and treatment was obtained. Followup information was obtained through telephone conversations with owners.

Results—In all horses, the diagnosis was made by use of high-resolution ultrasonography. Seven horses had moderate lameness on initial examination; lameness was exacerbated in 6 horses following flexion of the distal limb joints. The cause of lameness could not be determined on the basis of clinical signs, and diagnostic local anesthesia was necessary to localize the source of lameness to the distal portion of the limb. Five horses had forelimb involvement (1 bilateral), and 4 had hind limb involvement (1 bilateral). Treatment consisted primarily of a 6-month rest and rehabilitation program. Six of the 9 horses were able to return to their intended use.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that injury to the SSL proximal to its insertion on the middle phalanx should be considered as a possible cause of lameness in horses, particularly performance horses, with lameness localized to the distal portion of the forelimb or hind limb that do not have any radiographic abnormalities. High-resolution ultrasonography was necessary to make the diagnosis. Horses with an acute injury appeared to have a reasonable chance of responding to treatment and returning to their intended use. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:973–977)

Abstract

Objective—To determine clinical signs, diagnostic findings, and outcome for horses with desmitis of the straight sesamoidean ligament (SSL) near its insertion on the middle phalanx.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—9 horses.

Procedure—Medical records were reviewed, and information on signalment, history, clinical signs, diagnostic findings, and treatment was obtained. Followup information was obtained through telephone conversations with owners.

Results—In all horses, the diagnosis was made by use of high-resolution ultrasonography. Seven horses had moderate lameness on initial examination; lameness was exacerbated in 6 horses following flexion of the distal limb joints. The cause of lameness could not be determined on the basis of clinical signs, and diagnostic local anesthesia was necessary to localize the source of lameness to the distal portion of the limb. Five horses had forelimb involvement (1 bilateral), and 4 had hind limb involvement (1 bilateral). Treatment consisted primarily of a 6-month rest and rehabilitation program. Six of the 9 horses were able to return to their intended use.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that injury to the SSL proximal to its insertion on the middle phalanx should be considered as a possible cause of lameness in horses, particularly performance horses, with lameness localized to the distal portion of the forelimb or hind limb that do not have any radiographic abnormalities. High-resolution ultrasonography was necessary to make the diagnosis. Horses with an acute injury appeared to have a reasonable chance of responding to treatment and returning to their intended use. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;222:973–977)

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