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  • Author or Editor: Brianne M. Taylor x
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To describe the microvascular anatomy of the equine hind limb suspensory ligament.


18 hind limbs harvested from 9 adult horses euthanized for reasons unrelated to lameness.


A catheter was placed in the transected cranial tibial artery at the level of the mid-distal tibia for each hind limb and used to inject 120 to 150 mL of contrast medium (2 limbs) to identify principal vasculature using contrast-enhanced CT or India ink (11 limbs) to identify microvasculature using the Spalteholz tissue-clearing technique. Routine histologic evaluation was performed on transverse sections from 4 hind limbs.


The hind limb suspensory ligament is principally supplied by branches of the medial and lateral plantar metatarsal arteries and, to a lesser extent, the medial and lateral plantar arteries as well as the associated proximal and distal deep plantar arches. A uniformly distributed intraligamentous microvascular supply was observed without relative deficiencies in vascularity between the proximal, midbody, and distal regions. Histologic examination supported these findings, demonstrating a network of connective tissue surrounding and entering the suspensory ligament containing cross-sections of branches of the principal vasculature.


The equine hind limb suspensory ligament has a uniformly distributed and abundant microvascular supply throughout its length, with no evidence of relative deficiency of vascular supply in any region. A region of hypovascularity does not appear to be a viable explanation for the high rate of injury to and commonality of lameness associated with the proximal hind suspensory ligament in horses.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research