Researchers are brightening up the field of monitoring equine tendonitis healing: Recent study results suggest that the colors displayed by Doppler ultrasonography could help veterinarians better follow the healing processes of certain conditions, like tendonitis.

“The color represents the blood flow,” said Daiki Murata, DVM, PhD candidate, researcher in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Science at Kagoshima University in Kagoshima, Japan. And blood flow can provide insight into the injured tendon’s healing status in a way that standard ultrasound—what Murata calls the current “gold standard” in tendonitis diagnostics—cannot.

Daiki and colleagues Kazuhiro Misumi, PhD, and Makoto Fujiki, PhD, evaluated 10 Thoroughbred racehorses with confirmed superficial digital flexor tendon injuries. The different rates of blood flow in the injured tendons caused different kinds of “color activity”—rhythmic blinking of small signals, pulsating expanded dots, or dynamic streams. The researchers assigned Grades 1, 2, or 3 to these different color activities, respectively. The color activity does not indicate the degree of injury; rather, it is representative of the amount of blood flow in a certain area, which can help veterinarians determine the state of healing.

This graded color activity offers a specific advantage over gray-scale ultrasound, Murata explained. Traditional ultrasounds have “questionable power to discriminate inflammatory and fragile granulation tissue from scar tissue,” he said. But the blood flow, as detected by the color ultrasound, makes this discrimination easy.

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