Objective—To define a method for the basilar sesamoidean approach (BSA) to the digital flexor tendon sheath (DFTS) in horses and compare it with the axial sesamoidean approach (ASA) for DFTS synoviocentesis and injection.
Animals—12 healthy adult mares without evidence of abnormalities related to the lower limbs.
Procedures—Each horse had 1 forelimb and 1 hind limb assigned to each DFTS approach (basilar vs axial, relative to the proximal sesamoid bones) in a Latin square design. The order of horses and of limb injection for each horse was randomly selected. All procedures were performed in standing sedated horses. The number of attempts to place a needle in the DFTS, presence of synovial fluid in the needle hub, time for DFTS injection, and number of accurate injections of sterile contrast material into the DFTS (evaluated by means of radiography) were compared between methods.
Results—Median time for injection was significantly shorter for the BSA, compared with the ASA. The median number of times the needle was redirected was also significantly less for the BSA. Odds of obtaining synovial fluid via the BSA were 5.7 times as great as for the ASA (95% confidence interval, 1.2 to 278). Successful injection of contrast material into the DFTS did not differ significantly between the BSA (24/24 limbs) and ASA (23/24).
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The BSA was a useful method for DFTS synoviocentesis in the forelimbs and hind limbs of standing sedated horses and was superior to the ASA in most aspects. This approach to the DFTS should be considered when DFTS injection or synovial fluid retrieval is desired, particularly in horses with minimal DFTS effusion.
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.
Case Description—A 5-year-old Appaloosa mare was examined for severe left forelimb lameness of 4 months' duration.
Clinical Findings—Lameness was evident at the walk and trot and was exacerbated when the horse circled to the left. Signs of pain were elicited in response to hoof testers placed over the frog of the left front hoof, and a palmar digital nerve block eliminated the lameness. Radiographs revealed no abnormalities, but magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed increased bone density in the medullary cavity of the distal sesamoid (navicular) bone in the proton density and T2-weighted images and a defect in the fibrocartilage and subchondral bone of the flexor cortex.
Treatment and Outcome—Because of the absence of improvement after 4 months and the poor prognosis for return to soundness, the mare was euthanatized. An adhesion between the deep digital flexor tendon and the flexor cortex defect on the navicular bone was grossly evident, and histologic evaluation revealed diffuse replacement of marrow trabecular bone with compact lamellar bone. Changes were consistent with blunt traumatic injury to the navicular bone that resulted in bone proliferation in the medullary cavity.
Clinical Relevance—Use of MRI enabled detection of changes that were not radiographically evident and enabled accurate diagnosis of the cause of lameness. Navicular bone injury may occur without fracture and should be considered as a differential diagnosis in horses with an acute onset of severe unilateral forelimb lameness originating from the heel portion of the foot.
Objective—To describe the location and severity of deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) lesions diagnosed by means of high-field-strength MRI in horses and to identify variables associated with return to activity following medical treatment.
Design—Retrospective case series.
Procedures—Medical records of horses with DDFT injury diagnosed with MRI over a 10-year period (2000–2010) and treated medically (intrasynovial administration of corticosteroids and sodium hyaluronan, rest and rehabilitation, or both) were reviewed. History, signalment, use, results of lameness examination and diagnostic local anesthesia, MRI findings, and treatment details were recorded. Outcome was obtained by telephone interview or follow-up examination. Horses were grouped by predictor variables and analyzed with logistic regression to identify significant effects.
Results—Overall, of 97 horses available for follow-up (median time to follow-up, 5 years; range, 1 to 12 years), 59 (61%) returned to activity for a mean duration of 22.6 months (median, 18 months; range, 3 to 72 months), with 25 (26%) still sound at follow-up. Of horses with mild, moderate, and severe injury, 21 of 29 (72%), 20 of 36 (56%), and 18 of 32 (56%), respectively, returned to use. Horses treated with intrasynovial corticosteroid injection and 6 months of rest and rehabilitation returned to use for a significantly longer duration than did horses treated without rest. Western performance horses returned to use for a significantly longer duration than did English performance horses.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of the present study suggested that outcome for horses with DDFT injuries treated medically depended on injury severity, presence of concurrent injury to other structures in the foot, type of activity, and owner compliance with specific treatment recommendations. Although some horses successfully returned to prior activity, additional treatment options are needed to improve outcome in horses with severe injuries and to improve long-term prognosis.
Objective—To determine treatment outcome on the basis of pathological changes identified on MRI and lameness duration in horses with navicular syndrome that underwent injection of corticosteroid and hyaluronan into the navicular bursa.
Design—Retrospective case series.
Animals—101 horses with navicular syndrome.
Procedures—Medical records of horses with signs of navicular syndrome evaluated between January 2000 and December 2008 were reviewed. Data on signalment, use of the horse, history, affected limbs, duration of lameness, findings on lameness examination, radiographic findings, MRI findings, treatment, and outcome were collected from the medical records. Follow-up information was obtained a minimum of 10 months after navicular bursa injection.
Results—Following navicular bursa injection, 76 of 101 (75%) horses returned to their intended use for a mean of 9.66 months, and 35 (35%) were sound at follow-up. Horses that had been lame for < 6 months before treatment were significantly more likely to return to their intended use, have a longer positive response to treatment, and be sound at follow-up, compared with horses that had a longer lameness history. Horses with primary deep digital flexor (DDF) tendonitis responded best to navicular bursa injection with rest and rehabilitation, followed by horses with navicular bursitis and horses with DDF tendonitis and adhesions to the collateral sesamoidean ligament of the distal sesamoid (navicular) bone. Horses with scar tissue in the proximal portion of the navicular bursa, adhesions from the navicular bone to the DDF tendon, or multiple abnormalities did not respond as well to treatment.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Response to navicular bursa injection with corticosteroid and hyaluronan in horses with navicular syndrome was dependent on the disease process detected on MRI and duration of lameness.