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To identify and measure radiolucencies at the solear margin of the distal phalanx in radiographs of healthy and laminitic hooves.


Clinical records and dorsoproximal-palmarodistal radiographs of equine forelimbs with radiological diagnoses of either laminitis (n = 40, L) or navicular syndrome (n = 40, NS).


Outlines of the radiolucent structures at the solar margin were drawn in ImageJ, and a customized novel plugin “Arteries Analyzer/ImageJ” was used for measurements. The diverging radiolucencies outside the terminal arc of the distal phalanx were differentiated as arterial channels (open at the solear margin) and ellipses (closed at the solear margin). Comparisons between L and NS, between distal phalanges with and without ellipses, and of arterial channels and ellipses in areas were compared using Wilcoxon and the Mann-Whitney U tests, respectively. The reliability and repeatability of the method were tested using Friedman’s test.


Fewer arterial channels but more ellipses were identified in L than in NS. In phalanges with ellipses (n = 47), the number of ellipses and the number of arterial channels were negatively correlated (PCC −0.181, P = .224). The number of ellipses correlated positively with the severity of laminitis (PCC 0.495, P < .001; n = 80) and with the degree of rotation of the distal phalanx (PCC 0.392, P < .001; n = 80).


The software tool successfully measured arterial channels and ellipses outlined by the evaluators. Results indicate that healthy arteries develop into pathological ellipses in laminitic feet. This may be used to complement the interpretation of radiographs and support clinical decision-making.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research