Diagnosing Hoof Lameness due to Multiple Causes (AAEP 2012)

One vet said multiple abnormalities could contribute to hoof lameness, rather than just one problem.

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Traditional means of diagnosing and effectively treating foot pain have been wrought with challenges and disappointment, particularly when the focus is on deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) injury. One University of California, Davis, veterinarian and his colleagues recently determined they could diagnose and treat foot pain more successfully if they considered that multiple abnormalities could actually be contributing to the lameness, rather than just a single problem.

“Largely because of MRI, we have a greater understanding of the close anatomic and functional relationship of various bony and soft tissue structures in the equine foot,” said Mathieu Spriet, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVR, Dipl. ECVDI, of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in his presentation at the 2012 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in Anaheim, Calif.

In addition to damaging the DDFT, which runs along the back of the cannon bone and pastern to its insertion on the distal phalanx (coffin bone), the horse can injure other soft tissues, including the distal sesamoidean impar ligament, which extends between the navicular and coffin bones. Further, a horse can even develop bony changes, such as resorption (breakdown) or the formation of cystlike lesions.

To show that these lesions can (and do) occur in concert, Spriet and colleagues reviewed and compared the MRIs and radiographs of 82 horses with lameness localized to the lower aspect of the front limbs

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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