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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Proximal Suspensory Desmitis in a Horse

The ultrasound images below are from a teenage gelding that presented for a 3 month history of mild, forelimb lameness. The lameness would improve with rest but would return soon after the gelding was returned to work. On physical exam, the proximal suspensory palpated sensitive, just below the carpus (knee) of the right forelimb. The gelding was not lame in a straight line however when lunged in a circle to the left, a mild lameness (2/5) was noted in the right forelimb. The lameness improved approximately 50% after blocking the lower limb however when the proximal suspensory ligament was blocked, the gelding was sound. Ultrasound exam of the tendons and ligaments revealed a focal area of decreased echogenicity (dark spot) which was consistent with inflammation and edema within the proximal suspensory ligament. 

Figure 1

Figure 2
In Figure 1, there is a cross sectional image of the superficial flexor tendon (SDF), deep digital flexor tendon (DDF), distal check ligament, and the proximal suspensory ligament. This image was made approximately 10cm below the knee or carpus. In Figure 2, the same area is imaged in cross section and in longitudinal plane. The same lesion (dark spot) can be seen in both images which is consistent with a "real" lesion versus an artifact. In the longitudinal view (right image in Figure 2), the origin of the suspensory is highlighted by the blue arrows and the edema is noted by the dark fibers just above the blue arrows. In Figure 3, the cross sectional image is slightly obliqued to visualize the inside or medial aspect of the limb. The lesion within the suspensory ligament is more apparent in this image and is represented by the dark blue circle within the yellow circle (suspensory ligament) in Figure 3.


Figure 3

Figure 4

The history and lameness exam findings are "classic" for a forelimb proximal suspensory ligament injury. Often the lameness is most noticeable when the affected limb is on the outside of the circle and the lameness will improve temporarily with rest. The prognosis for this injury is "good" however will require rest, ice therapy, corrective shoeing and a specific rehabilatory program. Adjunct therapies include shockwave treatment and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections.


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