Reasons for performing study: The significance of distal border fragments of the navicular bone is not well understood. There are also no objective data about changes in thickness and proximal/distal extension of the palmar cortex of the navicular bone.
Objectives: To describe the distribution of distal border fragments and their association with other radiological abnormalities of the navicular bone and describe the shape of the navicular bone in sound horses and horses with foot-related lameness, including navicular pathology.
Methods: Sound horses had radiographs acquired as part of a prepurchase examination. Lame horses had forelimb lameness abolished by palmar nerve blocks performed at the base of the proximal sesamoid bones. Diagnosis was assigned prospectively based on results of local analgesia and all imaging findings. The thickness of the palmar cortex of the navicular bone and size of proximal/distal extensions were measured objectively. Other radiological abnormalities were evaluated subjectively and each navicular bone graded.
Results: Fifty-five sound and 377 lame horses were included. All measurements were larger in lame compared with sound horses except the size of the distal extension of the palmar cortex. Fragments were observed in 3.6 and 8.7% of sound and lame horses respectively and in 24.1% of horses with a diagnosis of primary navicular pathology. There was an association between fragments and overall navicular bone grade, radiolucent areas at the angles of the distal border of the navicular bone and number and size of the synovial invaginations.
Conclusions and potential relevance: The palmar cortex of the navicular bone was thicker in lame compared with sound horses. Distal border fragments were most frequent in horses with navicular pathology. Evaluation of changes in shape of the navicular bone may also be important for recognition of pathological abnormalities of the bone.