Reasons for performing study: Tears of the radial head of the deep digital flexor (DDF) have not previously been documented.
Objectives: To describe the presentation, clinical, ultrasonographic and tenoscopic features associated with tears of the radial head of the DDF and to report the results of treatment.
Hypotheses: Tears of the radial head of the DDF cause lameness and distension of the carpal sheath of the digital flexor tendons. Removal of disrupted tissue that is extruded into the sheath can result in clinical resolution and restoration of function.
Methods: Case records and diagnostic images of horses in which tearing of the radial head of the DDF was diagnosed were reviewed retrospectively and follow-up information obtained.
Results: Eleven cases were identified. Clinical, ultrasonographic and tenoscopic commonality was recorded and treatment techniques were documented. All cases returned post operatively to pre-injury levels of work.
Conclusion: Tearing of the radial head of the DDF is a clinical entity with consistent diagnostic features. Tenoscopic removal of the torn tissue is associated with a good outcome.
Potential relevance: Clinicians evaluating lame horses should include tearing of the radial head of the DDF as a differential diagnosis in animals with distended carpal sheaths. Tenoscopic surgery is a recommended treatment.