• horse;
  • ultrasound;
  • anatomy;
  • deep digital flexor tendon;
  • digital flexor tendon sheath


Twenty-four horses with ultrasonographic evidence of tendonitis of the deep digital flexor tendon in the metacarpal/metatarsal region were seen over a 7 year period. Most horses had mild to moderate lameness and distension of the digital flexor tendon sheath in the affected limb. Intrasynovial analgesia of the digital flexor tendon sheath consistently improved the degree of lameness. Ultrasonography most commonly revealed small, distinct, often circular, focal hypoechoic areas within the deep digital flexor tendon which usually extended less than 1 cm proximodistally. The degree of lameness and swelling generally improved with box rest and controlled exercise, however, exacerbation of the clinical signs and ultrasonographic lesions was common when affected horses were returned to work or allowed free exercise at pasture. Of 24 cases, only 7 horses made a full recovery and returned to their intended athletic activity.