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Assessment of the ultrasonographic characteristics of the podotrochlear apparatus in clinically normal horses and horses with navicular syndrome

Jeevrah S. GrewalDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50010-1250.
Present address is Reid and Associates, 1630 F Rd, Loxahatchee, FL 33470.

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Scott R. McClureDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50010-1250.

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Larry C. BoothDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50010-1250.

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Richard B. EvansDepartments of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50010-1250.

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Stephanie S. CastonDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50010-1250.

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Abstract

Objective—To characterize the normal ultrasonographic appearance of the podotrochlear apparatus in horses by use of standardized measurements and identify soft tissue changes associated with navicular syndrome.

Design—Prospective study.

Animals—7 clinically normal horses and 28 horses with navicular syndrome.

Procedure—The feasibility of identifying and measuring the soft tissue structures of the podotrochlear apparatus ultrasonographically via the transcuneal approach was assessed in 2 additional horses without navicular syndrome; both horses were euthanatized, and the structures identified ultrasonographically were confirmed at necropsy. Ultrasonographs were obtained in the study horses. Objective and subjective data were obtained to characterize ultrasonographic changes associated with navicular syndrome.

Results—Abnormalities of the flexor surface of the distal sesamoid (navicular) bone, the impar ligament, the distal digital annular ligament, deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT), and the podotrochlear (navicular) bursa were assessed via the transcuneal ultrasonographic approach. No significant differences were found between the measurements of the podotrochlear apparatus in normal horses and those with navicular syndrome; however, important subjective differences were detected ultrasonographically in horses with navicular syndrome. In horses with navicular syndrome, ultrasonographic findings were indicative of navicular bursitis, dystrophic mineralization of the DDFT and impar ligament, tendonitis and insertional tenopathy of the DDFT, desmitis of the impar ligament, and cortical changes in the flexor surface of the navicular bone.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Findings of ultrasonographic evaluation of the hoof appear to be useful in determining the cause of caudal heel pain and characterizing the components of navicular syndrome in horses. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:1881–1888)

Abstract

Objective—To characterize the normal ultrasonographic appearance of the podotrochlear apparatus in horses by use of standardized measurements and identify soft tissue changes associated with navicular syndrome.

Design—Prospective study.

Animals—7 clinically normal horses and 28 horses with navicular syndrome.

Procedure—The feasibility of identifying and measuring the soft tissue structures of the podotrochlear apparatus ultrasonographically via the transcuneal approach was assessed in 2 additional horses without navicular syndrome; both horses were euthanatized, and the structures identified ultrasonographically were confirmed at necropsy. Ultrasonographs were obtained in the study horses. Objective and subjective data were obtained to characterize ultrasonographic changes associated with navicular syndrome.

Results—Abnormalities of the flexor surface of the distal sesamoid (navicular) bone, the impar ligament, the distal digital annular ligament, deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT), and the podotrochlear (navicular) bursa were assessed via the transcuneal ultrasonographic approach. No significant differences were found between the measurements of the podotrochlear apparatus in normal horses and those with navicular syndrome; however, important subjective differences were detected ultrasonographically in horses with navicular syndrome. In horses with navicular syndrome, ultrasonographic findings were indicative of navicular bursitis, dystrophic mineralization of the DDFT and impar ligament, tendonitis and insertional tenopathy of the DDFT, desmitis of the impar ligament, and cortical changes in the flexor surface of the navicular bone.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Findings of ultrasonographic evaluation of the hoof appear to be useful in determining the cause of caudal heel pain and characterizing the components of navicular syndrome in horses. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:1881–1888)