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Keywords:

  • equine;
  • fetlock;
  • metacarpophalangeal;
  • metatarsophalangeal;
  • scintigraphy.

The purpose of this study was to describe the pattern of radiopharmaceutical uptake in the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) and metatarsophalangeal (MTP) (fetlock) joints in clinically sound horses. Scintigraphic images from 29 clinically normal horses were evaluated. All the images were assessed subjectively. The lateral views were assessed quantitatively using vertical line profiles through the center of the joint, and mean ratios of radiopharmaceutical uptake were calculated from regions of interest around the third metacarpal or metatarsal bones, and the proximal phalanx and proximal sesamoid bones. From the vertical line profiles, in the majority of forelimbs (65%) the peak activity of radiopharmaceutical distribution was at the proximal region of the proximal phalanx, with a significantly lower activity within the condyles of the third metacarpal bone. However, in 84% of hindlimbs there was a broader profile peak incorporating the condyles of the third metatarsal bone and the proximal aspect of the proximal phalanx, indicating a more generalized even uptake of radiopharmaceutical across the MTP joint. When the regions of interest were compared between front and hindlimbs, there was no significant difference between proximal phalanx and proximal sesamoid bones, but the distal condyles of the third metacarpal bone of the forelimb had significantly lower radiopharmaceutical activity than hindlimbs (P<0.04). In lateral images, the mean forelimb ratios tended to be higher in the left MCP joint compared with the right (P=0.069). In hindlimbs, the mean ratios tended to be higher in the right MTP joint than the left (P=0.052). There was no significant effect of age.