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Superficial digital flexor tendonitis in cutting horses: 19 cases (2007–2011)

Tyler E. Tipton DVM1, Chris S. Ray DVM, DACVS2, and D. Reese Hand DVM, DACVS3
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  • 1 Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery, 2991 W 1-20 S Frontage Rd, Weatherford, TX 76086.
  • | 2 Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery, 2991 W 1-20 S Frontage Rd, Weatherford, TX 76086.
  • | 3 Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery, 2991 W 1-20 S Frontage Rd, Weatherford, TX 76086.

Abstract

Objective—To characterize superficial digital flexor (SDF) tendon lesions in the forelimbs of cutting horses and determine recurrence rate and prognosis for this condition.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—19 cutting horses with SDF tendonitis.

Procedures—Medical records for horses evaluated for SDF tendonitis in 2007 through 2011 were reviewed. Data regarding age, sex, lameness grade, affected limb, and treatment were collected. Ultrasonographic images were reviewed, and lesion characteristics were recorded. Follow-up telephone interviews with owners or trainers were conducted to determine recurrence of SDF tendonitis, return of horse to its previous level of activity, and duration of the convalescent period.

Results—All 19 horses initially evaluated for SDF tendonitis had similar lesions in the lateral aspect of the tendon. The right forelimb was affected in 11 horses, and the left forelimb was affected in 7 horses; 1 horse was affected in both forelimbs. Mean lameness grade was 1.26 (range, 0 to 3). Of 17 horses for which follow-up information was available, 3 had recurrence of tendon lesions and 1 developed a lesion in the contralateral forelimb SDF tendon; 16 horses returned to their previous level of activity.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The location of SDF tendonitis in cutting horses appeared to be unique in that no central core lesions were detected ultrasonographically. Lesions at the periphery of the tendon may have an increased ability to heal, compared with lesions at the central core. Results suggested that cutting horses with SDF tendonitis have a better prognosis than that reported for affected racehorses.

Abstract

Objective—To characterize superficial digital flexor (SDF) tendon lesions in the forelimbs of cutting horses and determine recurrence rate and prognosis for this condition.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—19 cutting horses with SDF tendonitis.

Procedures—Medical records for horses evaluated for SDF tendonitis in 2007 through 2011 were reviewed. Data regarding age, sex, lameness grade, affected limb, and treatment were collected. Ultrasonographic images were reviewed, and lesion characteristics were recorded. Follow-up telephone interviews with owners or trainers were conducted to determine recurrence of SDF tendonitis, return of horse to its previous level of activity, and duration of the convalescent period.

Results—All 19 horses initially evaluated for SDF tendonitis had similar lesions in the lateral aspect of the tendon. The right forelimb was affected in 11 horses, and the left forelimb was affected in 7 horses; 1 horse was affected in both forelimbs. Mean lameness grade was 1.26 (range, 0 to 3). Of 17 horses for which follow-up information was available, 3 had recurrence of tendon lesions and 1 developed a lesion in the contralateral forelimb SDF tendon; 16 horses returned to their previous level of activity.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The location of SDF tendonitis in cutting horses appeared to be unique in that no central core lesions were detected ultrasonographically. Lesions at the periphery of the tendon may have an increased ability to heal, compared with lesions at the central core. Results suggested that cutting horses with SDF tendonitis have a better prognosis than that reported for affected racehorses.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Tipton (ttipton@equinesportsmedicine.com).