Case Description—A 4-year-old Quarter Horse stallion was evaluated because of a 10-month history of moderate (grade 3/5) left forelimb lameness (detectable during trotting over a smooth, hard surface).
Clinical Findings—No abnormalities were detected in either forelimb via palpation or application of hoof testers; however, lameness was eliminated after administration of a palmar digital nerve block in the left forelimb. Whereas radiography and ultrasonography did not identify any left forelimb foot abnormalities, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging revealed a circumscribed soft tissue mass in the distal aspect of the digital flexor tendon sheath (DFTS) dorsal to the lateral aspect of the deep digital flexor tendon. Subsequently, the left forelimb DFTS was injected with local anesthetic, which resulted in 90% improvement of the horse's lameness.
Treatment and Outcome—The distal aspect of the left forelimb DFTS was evaluated tenoscopically. The mass was removed under tenoscopic guidance, after which the distal digital annular ligament was transected. The horse received phenylbutazone orally for 10 days, and the left forelimb DFTS was injected with hyaluronic acid and methylprednisolone acetate 7 days after the surgery. Following a rehabilitation program, the horse was returned to full training at 6 months after surgery and competed successfully during a 2-year follow-up period.
Clinical Relevance—Use of MR imaging should be considered in all lame horses for which a definitive diagnosis cannot be made via radiography, ultrasonography, or other imaging techniques, especially when the lameness has been localized to a specific anatomic region by use of diagnostic anesthesia.