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Keywords:

  • equine;
  • fetlock;
  • lameness;
  • metacarpophalangeal;
  • metatarsophalangeal;
  • MRI

Two hundred and thirty-two horses with lameness localized to the metacarpo(tarso)phalangeal (MCP/MTP) region without a radiographic diagnosis were evaluated. All horses had high-field magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the MCP/MTP region performed for the lame limb and the contralateral limb for comparison. There were 46 horses that had bilateral abnormalities in the forelimbs; 27 of these horses were not lame in the contralateral limb at the time of examination. Bilateral hind limb abnormalities were observed in 37 horses; 22 horses were not lame in the contralateral limb. Soft tissue abnormalities alone were observed in 218 limbs (162 horses). Subchondral bone and articular cartilage abnormalities alone were observed in 43 limbs (34 horses). A combination of soft tissue, subchondral bone, and cartilage abnormalities were observed in 64 limbs (36 horses). The distribution of primary abnormalities was as follows; oblique distal sesamoidean ligament desmitis (73 limbs in 56 horses), straight distal sesamoidean ligament desmitis (44 limbs in 38 horses), chronic subchondral bone injuries (15 limbs in 12 horses), suspensory ligament branch desmitis (14 limbs in 12 horses), collateral ligament desmitis (12 limbs in 12 horses), tendonitis of the superficial and deep digital flexor tendons (10 limbs in 10 horses), osteochondral defects greater than 1 cm (nine limbs in six horses), osteochondral defects less than 1 cm (eight limbs in seven horses), bone marrow lesions (six limbs in five horses), intersesamoidean ligament desmitis (five limbs in four horses). MR imaging is useful in diagnosing bone and soft tissue injuries when radiographs and ultrasound fail to yield a diagnosis.