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Ultrasonographic cross-sectional area (csa) measurements of equine superficial digital flexor (sdf) tendon were obtained to determine the feasibility of ultrasonography for csa measurement of tendon in vivo and in vitro. Ultrasonographic measurements were compared with a more traditional csa measurement method, ink-blot analysis. In addition, values for ultrasonographic sdf tendon mean echogenicity were obtained in vivo and in vitro. The left forelimb sdf tendons of 23 horses were evaluated ultrasonographically. Cross-sectional images were acquired at 4-cm intervals distal to the base of the accessory carpal bone (dacb) to the level of the proximal sesamoid bones while horses were standing squarely. After euthanasia, the left forelimbs were mounted in a materials testing system (mts) and loaded under tension to standing load. Ultrasonographic images were again acquired at the same locations. The ultrasonographic images were digitized, and values for ultrasonographic csa and mean echogenicity were obtained for each level.

Immediately after mechanical testing, a 1-cm-thick transverse section of sdf tendon at 12 cm dacb was removed. Three ink blots were prepared from each end of the removed tendon section and digitized. The 6 csa values were averaged to generate a value for morphologic csa for each sdf tendon at 12 cm dacb.

Standing ultrasonographic tendon csa at 12 cm dacb was consistently smallest (mean ± sd csa = 86 ± 11 mm2), followed by mts ultrasonographic csa (mean, 95 ± 12 mm2), ink-blot morphologic csa being largest (mean, 99 ± 15 mm2). Comparison of standing and mts ultrasonographic csa values at 12 cm dacb revealed a strong positive linear correlation between methods (R 2 = 0.74, P = 0.001). Comparison of ink-blot csa at 12 cm dacb with standing and mts ultrasonographic csa revealed strong positive linear correlations (R 2 = 0.64, P = 0.001 and R 2 = 0.72, P = 0.001, respectively).

For ultrasonographic mean echogenicity, standing values insignificantly exceeded mts values at each level. The authors conclude that ultrasonography is a useful technique for the noninvasive assessment of sdf tendon csa that can be applied in vivo and in vitro.

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Results of studies in human beings and other species have indicated that aging significantly influences the strength, modulus of elasticity, and energy storage ability of tendon. We wanted to determine the effects of aging on the material and ultrasonographic properties of equine superficial digital flexor (sdf) tendon. Ultrasonographic measurements of left forelimb sdf tendon cross-sectional area and mean echogenicity were made in 23 standing horses ranging in age from 2 to 23 years. All horses had not been in work for a minimum of 6 months prior to the study. After euthanasia, left forelimb bone-muscle-tendon-bone specimens were mounted in a materials testing system. The sdf tendon was cyclically loaded sinusoidally 100 times at 0.5 Hz from 1.5 to 5.0% strain, then was submitted to 10-minute creep-and-stress relaxation tests. Modulus of elasticity, load at 3% strain, and creep-and-stress relaxation were determined for each specimen. A significant positive correlation was found between elastic modulus and age. Correlation was not found between age and sdf tendon cross-sectional area or mean echogenicity. When 2-year-old horses were compared with older horses, the latter had tendons with a significantly (P = 0.007) greater modulus of elasticity. The authors conclude that increasing age through maturity is associated with a corresponding increase in equine sdf tendon elastic modulus.

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research



To document gross and microscopic anatomic features of the collateral ligaments of the canine cubital joint and to determine their structural and material properties.


37 canine cadavers.


After measurement of ligament dimensions, the bone-collateral ligament-bone specimens were loaded in tension until failure, using a materials testing machine. Data from the load-displacement curves were used to determine the structural and material properties of the ligaments. Gross anatomic features were studied during dissection of the specimens from the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL), which then were saved for microscopic examination.


Failure load and stiffness values for the LCL were significantly (P < 0.05) greater than those for the MCL. The LCL had obvious cranial and caudal components that attached to the radius and ulna, respectively. The MCL also had cranial and caudal components; however, the cranial component was indistinct, appearing only as a slight thickening of the joint capsule. The caudal component was more prominent; as it extended distad, it had minor attachments to the interosseous and annular ligaments and attached principally on the caudolateral surface of the proximal portion of the radius. The caudal component did not have substantial attachment to the ulna in any of the specimens studied. Both ligaments were composed of closely packed, parallel fascicles of dense collagen, with scant amounts of fibrocartilage and no detectable elastin.


Gross anatomic features of the collateral ligaments of the canine cubital joint indicate that they provide principal structural support to the joint; microscopic anatomic features are typical of other ligaments. The LCL is stronger and stiffer than the MCL; however, their material properties are similar.

Clinical Relevance

Knowledge of the sites of attachment of collateral ligament components is essential for surgeons undertaking repair or reconstruction of these structures. (Am J Vet Res 1997;58:461–466)

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research