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Monday, February 2, 2015

Proximal Suspensory Desmitis in a Horse

A 10 year-old warm-blood gelding presented to PHD veterinary services for the complaint of forelimb lameness. During the lameness exam, it was noted that the gelding was moderately lame in the right front limb and the lameness appeared worse when the horse was lunged at the trot in a circle to the left. Palpation of the limb noted only mild response to pressure over the proximal suspensory ligament (back side of the limb, just below the carpus). A series of nerve and joint blocks were performed to isolate the source of the lameness. Once the proximal suspensory ligament was "blocked" the horse's lameness improved significantly. Therefore, an ultrasound exam was performed of the soft tissue structures of the right limb with emphasis on the proximal suspensory ligament. Figures 1 and 2 correspond to the proximal suspensory ligament. The yellow line outlines the body of the proximal suspensory ligament in cross-section and the blue arrows a bright (hyperechoic) lesion within the suspensory ligament. The area of increased brightness or echogenicity is consistent with an enthysophyte. In addition, the enthysophyte was surrounded by an area of decreased echogenicity consistent with edema or active inflammation. An enthysophyte is a abnormal bony projections at the site of attachment between a tendon/ligament at bone. In this case, between the proximal suspensory ligament and the third metacarpus (cannon bone).

Figure1

Figure 2
In a similar case, the horse was subjected to a CT (computed tomography) exam and the enthysophytes appear as small, spikes (blue arrows) which are projecting into the body of the suspensory ligament (yellow outline). From this view is understanding why these horses have chronic and recurring forelimb lameness issues. The presence of enthysophytes tends to worsen the prognosis with regards to return to "full" work.

Figure3

The above mentioned gelding was treated with rest, multiple PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections, and shockwave treatment. He is currently sound however his prognosis remains guarded for full return to work and show.

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