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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.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Objective—To compare the analgesic efficacy of administration of butorphanol tartrate, phenylbutazone, or both drugs in combination in colts undergoing routine castration.

Design—Randomized controlled clinical trial.

Animals—36 client-owned colts.

Procedures—Horses received treatment with butorphanol alone (0.05 mg/kg [0.023 mg/lb], IM, prior to surgery and then q 4 h for 24 hours), phenylbutazone alone (4.4 mg/kg [2.0 mg/lb], IV, prior to surgery and then 2.2 mg/kg [1.0 mg/lb], PO, q 12 h for 3 days), or butorphanol and phenylbutazone at the aforementioned dosages (12 horses/group). For single-drug–treated horses, appropriate placebos were administered to balance treatment protocols among groups. All horses were anesthetized, and lidocaine hydrochloride was injected into each testis. Physical and physiological variables, plasma cortisol concentration, body weight, and water consumption were assessed before and at intervals after surgery, and induction of and recovery from anesthesia were subjectively characterized. Observers assessed signs of pain by use of a visual analogue scale and a numerical rating scale.

Results—Significant changes in gastrointestinal sounds, fecal output, and plasma cortisol concentrations were evident in each treatment group over time, compared with preoperative values. At any time point, assessed variables and signs of pain did not differ significantly among groups, although the duration of recumbency after surgery was longest for the butorphanol-phenylbutazone–treated horses.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—With intratesticular injections of lidocaine, administration of butorphanol to anesthetized young horses undergoing routine castration had the same apparent analgesic effect as phenylbutazone treatment. Combined butorphanolphenylbutazone treatment was not apparently superior to either drug used alone.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association



To describe the use of non–contrast-enhanced CT to identify deep digital flexor (DDF) tendinopathy in horses with lameness attributed to pain in regions distal to the metatarsophalangeal or metacarpophalangeal joints.


Retrospective case series.


28 client-owned horses.


Medical records were searched to identify horses that underwent non–contrast-enhanced CT with or without high-field MRI as part of an evaluation for lameness localized to areas distal to the metacarpophalangeal or metatarsophalangeal joint in ≥ 1 limb. Horses were included in the study if they had ≥ 1 DDF tendon lesion (DDF tendinopathy) identified. Signalment, lameness examination findings and response to perineural anesthesia, imaging modality, anesthetic agents and duration of anesthesia, and imaging findings were recorded. Data were summarized descriptively.


Bilateral imaging was performed for all horses, irrespective of unilateral or bilateral lameness. Nine of 28 horses underwent both CT and MRI, and all DDF tendon lesions identified by one modality were identified by the other. Of 48 limbs with DDF tendinopathy, 46 (96%) had core lesions and 35 (73%) had dorsal border irregularities. Median anesthesia time for CT and CT followed by MRI was 15 and 110 minutes, respectively.


Results suggested that non–contrast-enhanced CT was useful for identifying DDF tendinopathy in horses with lameness localized to the phalangeal regions, and this was supported by consistency of findings in a subset of horses that underwent MRI. Further research is needed to confirm these results.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association



To evaluate the radiographic thickness of the dorsal hoof wall in normal draft horse feet.


33 adult draft horses with no history of laminitis, no clinically obvious lameness, and visibly unremarkable front feet were included.


This was a prospective, descriptive study of clinically normal draft horses’ front feet. Lateromedial radiographs were acquired of the front feet. A ratio of the dorsal hoof wall thickness to the length of the distal phalanx (DHWP3 ratio) was calculated.


The dorsal hoof wall thickness to length of the distal phalanx was calculated as 0.33 ± 0.03 (range of 0.28 to 0.39) in this population of draft horses.


With very few exceptions, the heterogeneous population of draft horses evaluated in this study had a DHWP3 ratio greater than previously published values in lighter breeds (< 0.30).

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research