Mineralization can be an incidental ultrasonographic finding in equine tendons and ligaments

O'Brien, E J O and Smith, R K W (2018) Mineralization can be an incidental ultrasonographic finding in equine tendons and ligaments. VETERINARY RADIOLOGY & ULTRASOUND.

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Abstract

Tendon/ligament mineralization is recognized in horses but information regarding its clinical significance is limited. The aims of this observational study were to report the structures most commonly affected by ultrasonographically detectable mineralization and, for these, determine frequency of diagnosis and key clinical features. Cases presented at our hospital in April 1999–April 2013 and September 2014–November 2015 were included: a total of 27 horses (22 retrospective, five prospective). Mineralizations were most common in deep digital flexor tendons (10) and suspensory ligament branches (eight), representing 10% and 7% (estimated), respectively, of horses diagnosed with injuries to these structures during the study. Two deep digital flexor tendon and three suspensory ligament branch cases showed bilateral mineralization. Deep digital flexor tendon mineralization was restricted to the digital flexor tendon sheath, most commonly in the proximal sheath (±sesamoidean canal), and seven of 10 cases involved hindlimbs. Suspensory ligament branch mineralization was visible in the same ultrasound window as the proximal sesamoid bones in 10/11 limbs and six of eight cases involved forelimbs. Previous corticosteroid medication was a feature of one deep digital flexor tendon and one suspensory ligament branch case. Mineralization was associated with lameness in some but not all limbs. Mineralized foci within the deep digital flexor tendon preceded hypoechoic lesion formation in two limbs. Of the cases with deep digital flexor tendon or suspensory ligament branch injury only, one of three and two of three cases, respectively, became sound. Findings indicated that tendon/ligament mineralization can be associated with lameness in some horses, but can also be an incidental finding.