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Microanatomic characteristics of the insertion of the distal sesamoidean impar ligament and deep digital flexor tendon on the distal phalanx in healthy feet obtained from horses

Kimberly K. Van WulfenDepartment of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.

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 DVM, MS
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Robert M. BowkerDepartment of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.

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 VMD, PhD

Abstract

Objective—To describe microanatomic characteristics of the insertion of the distal sesamoidean impar ligament (DSIL) and deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) on the distal phalanx in horses.

Sample Population—Healthy feet obtained from 62 horses of various breeds.

Procedure—Feet from 23 horses were used to histologically examine the insertion of the DSIL and DDFT (n = 7), its vasculature (10), and neural elements (6). In 39 other horses, the insertion zone was examined for proteoglycan.

Results—The insertion of the DSIL and dorsal half of the DDFT contained bundles of collagen fibers with intervening loose connective tissue septa with arteriovenous complexes (AVC) and nerve fibers. Microscopic examination revealed adaptive changes in the insertion with regard to proteoglycan content. In young adult horses, little or no staining for proteoglycans was evident, whereas in middle-aged horses, moderate proteoglycan staining was seen. Six older horses had slight proteoglycan staining at the insertion.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The study revealed that this region contained a rich neurovascular complex between the collagen bundles. A gradual increase in production of proteoglycan, evident at the insertion of the DSIL and DDFT on the distal phalanx, indicates that adaptive responses to stress rather than age alone may be the primary determining factor. These observations indicate that this insertion site may be susceptible to stress during stance and impact loading, because this region appears to be strategically situated to regulate important neurovascular functions of the foot. (Am J Vet Res 2002;63:215–221)

Abstract

Objective—To describe microanatomic characteristics of the insertion of the distal sesamoidean impar ligament (DSIL) and deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) on the distal phalanx in horses.

Sample Population—Healthy feet obtained from 62 horses of various breeds.

Procedure—Feet from 23 horses were used to histologically examine the insertion of the DSIL and DDFT (n = 7), its vasculature (10), and neural elements (6). In 39 other horses, the insertion zone was examined for proteoglycan.

Results—The insertion of the DSIL and dorsal half of the DDFT contained bundles of collagen fibers with intervening loose connective tissue septa with arteriovenous complexes (AVC) and nerve fibers. Microscopic examination revealed adaptive changes in the insertion with regard to proteoglycan content. In young adult horses, little or no staining for proteoglycans was evident, whereas in middle-aged horses, moderate proteoglycan staining was seen. Six older horses had slight proteoglycan staining at the insertion.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The study revealed that this region contained a rich neurovascular complex between the collagen bundles. A gradual increase in production of proteoglycan, evident at the insertion of the DSIL and DDFT on the distal phalanx, indicates that adaptive responses to stress rather than age alone may be the primary determining factor. These observations indicate that this insertion site may be susceptible to stress during stance and impact loading, because this region appears to be strategically situated to regulate important neurovascular functions of the foot. (Am J Vet Res 2002;63:215–221)