• horse;
  • foot lesions;
  • low-field magnetic resonance imaging;
  • North America;
  • medical therapy;
  • outcome


Reasons for performing study: Currently, there are limited data regarding the long-term outcome of horses with foot pain treated with corrective shoeing, rest and rehabilitation, and intrasynovial anti-inflammatory medication to target lesions detected with MRI.

Objective: To report the long-term (≥12 months) outcome of horses with foot lesions following medical therapy.

Hypotheses: 1) There is no association between clinical parameters considered and a poor response to therapy. 2) Horses with a deep digital flexor tendinopathy are less likely to respond to medical therapy than horses without a deep digital flexor tendinopathy.

Methods: The medical records of horses with foot pain subjected to MRI examination and medical therapy (2005–2007) were evaluated retrospectively. Data collected included history, signalment, occupation, duration and severity of lameness at the time of MRI, radiological and MRI abnormalities. Number of treatments, complications and long-term response to treatment were obtained by detailed telephone questionnaires. Association between clinical and MRI findings and long-term lameness were investigated.

Results: Frequent abnormal structures included the navicular bone, the deep digital flexor tendon, the navicular bursa and the distal interphalangeal joint. Thirty-four of 56 horses (60.7%) failed to return to previous level of exercise due to persistent or recurrent lameness or owners' decision to decrease the horse's athletic level; however, 11 horses (32.3%) were being used for light riding. Prognosis for horses with concurrent deep digital flexor tendon, navicular bone and navicular bursa lesions was worse than horses with individual lesions. Deep digital flexor tendinopathy was strongly associated with persistent or recurrent lameness.

Conclusions: Horses with multiple foot lesions managed with conservative therapy have a guarded prognosis for long-term soundness. Deep digital flexor tendinopathies negatively influence prognosis.