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Friday, April 11, 2014

Superficial Flexor Tendonitis in a Horse

A middle-aged gelding presented to PHD veterinary services for tendonitis of the superficial flexor tendon (SDF). The tendonitis was a result of an tendon-sheath penetrating injury and was associated with a severe tendon sheath infection. The tendon sheath infection was treated aggressively and effectively by an equine surgeon. An ultrasound exam was performed along the plantar aspect of the hind fetlock and a large, core-like lesion was identified (Figure 1, black area within red circle). The lesion consisted of disrupted tendon fiber and edema. Several options were considered to help the "healing process" involving the SDF tendonitis. These included extra corporeal shock wave treatment, platelet rich plasma (PRP) injection, stem cell injection, and/or concentrated bone marrow injection. The decision was made to treat the lesion by injecting a mixture of concentrated bone marrow mixed with PRP product. The bone marrow was collected from the horse's sternum and concentrated on site (Figure2). In addtion, a blood sample was collected from the horse and PRP was harvested on site. The PRP was mixed with the concentrated bone marrow and then injected into the lesion via ultra-sound guided technique.

Figure 1

Figure 2

In addition to the PRP+bone marrow injection, the horse was fitted with a corrective shoe that provided significant heel extension (Figure 3 and 4). This type of shoe is also known as a "fish tail" show and will reduce the "load" across the fetlock joint by supporting the lower limb. Horses recovering from tendon sheath infections and SDF tendonitis tend to avoid fully loading the back of the foot which may result in lower limb contracture. The fish tail shoe allows the horse to fully load the foot in a more comfortable fashion. The horse was walked daily and otherwise kept in stall confinement. In addition, the leg was treated daily with cold compresses.

Figure 3

Figure 4
Approximately 30 days after the PRP+bone marrow injection, the horse's limb was re-ultrasounded. There has been significant "filling in" of the lesion (Figure 5). Although the area that was the lesion (red circle) remains identifiable, there has been a significant improvement in tendon fiber alignment and the edema (black) has nearly completely resolved! Although this represents a tremendous amount of improvement in just 30 days, there remains a significant period of rehabilitation before the ultimate out come of this case can be reported.  This case provides an example of a regenerative therapy that combines PRP and progenitor stem cells (bone marrow) for the treatment of tendonitis! The advantages of this approach versus stem cell treatment include reduced cost, on site harvesting and same-day treatment.

Figure 5

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