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Medical treatment of horses with deep digital flexor tendon injuries diagnosed with high-field-strength magnetic resonance imaging: 118 cases (2000–2010)

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  • 1 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164.
  • | 2 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164.
  • | 3 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164.
  • | 4 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164.
  • | 5 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164.
  • | 6 Department of Statistics, College of Arts and Sciences, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.

Abstract

Objective—To describe the location and severity of deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) lesions diagnosed by means of high-field-strength MRI in horses and to identify variables associated with return to activity following medical treatment.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—118 horses.

Procedures—Medical records of horses with DDFT injury diagnosed with MRI over a 10-year period (2000–2010) and treated medically (intrasynovial administration of corticosteroids and sodium hyaluronan, rest and rehabilitation, or both) were reviewed. History, signalment, use, results of lameness examination and diagnostic local anesthesia, MRI findings, and treatment details were recorded. Outcome was obtained by telephone interview or follow-up examination. Horses were grouped by predictor variables and analyzed with logistic regression to identify significant effects.

Results—Overall, of 97 horses available for follow-up (median time to follow-up, 5 years; range, 1 to 12 years), 59 (61%) returned to activity for a mean duration of 22.6 months (median, 18 months; range, 3 to 72 months), with 25 (26%) still sound at follow-up. Of horses with mild, moderate, and severe injury, 21 of 29 (72%), 20 of 36 (56%), and 18 of 32 (56%), respectively, returned to use. Horses treated with intrasynovial corticosteroid injection and 6 months of rest and rehabilitation returned to use for a significantly longer duration than did horses treated without rest. Western performance horses returned to use for a significantly longer duration than did English performance horses.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of the present study suggested that outcome for horses with DDFT injuries treated medically depended on injury severity, presence of concurrent injury to other structures in the foot, type of activity, and owner compliance with specific treatment recommendations. Although some horses successfully returned to prior activity, additional treatment options are needed to improve outcome in horses with severe injuries and to improve long-term prognosis.

Abstract

Objective—To describe the location and severity of deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) lesions diagnosed by means of high-field-strength MRI in horses and to identify variables associated with return to activity following medical treatment.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—118 horses.

Procedures—Medical records of horses with DDFT injury diagnosed with MRI over a 10-year period (2000–2010) and treated medically (intrasynovial administration of corticosteroids and sodium hyaluronan, rest and rehabilitation, or both) were reviewed. History, signalment, use, results of lameness examination and diagnostic local anesthesia, MRI findings, and treatment details were recorded. Outcome was obtained by telephone interview or follow-up examination. Horses were grouped by predictor variables and analyzed with logistic regression to identify significant effects.

Results—Overall, of 97 horses available for follow-up (median time to follow-up, 5 years; range, 1 to 12 years), 59 (61%) returned to activity for a mean duration of 22.6 months (median, 18 months; range, 3 to 72 months), with 25 (26%) still sound at follow-up. Of horses with mild, moderate, and severe injury, 21 of 29 (72%), 20 of 36 (56%), and 18 of 32 (56%), respectively, returned to use. Horses treated with intrasynovial corticosteroid injection and 6 months of rest and rehabilitation returned to use for a significantly longer duration than did horses treated without rest. Western performance horses returned to use for a significantly longer duration than did English performance horses.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of the present study suggested that outcome for horses with DDFT injuries treated medically depended on injury severity, presence of concurrent injury to other structures in the foot, type of activity, and owner compliance with specific treatment recommendations. Although some horses successfully returned to prior activity, additional treatment options are needed to improve outcome in horses with severe injuries and to improve long-term prognosis.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Lutter's present address is Veterinary Health Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.

Dr. Schneider's present address is McKinlay Peters Equine Hospital, 6100 N Harvard Rd, Newman Lake, WA 99025.

Dr. Sampson's present address is Brazos Valley Equine Hospital, 6999 Hwy 6, Navasota, TX 77868.

Address correspondence to Dr. Lutter (dlutter@vet.k-state.edu).