Objective: In this study, the disparity between the lengths of the lateral and medial digit in cows with a Rusterholz sole ulcer compared to non-affected cows was investigated.
Material and methods: In total, 100 hind feet were collected from slaughtered cows. Twenty-five feet had a pre-ulcerative lesion at the typical site, 26 had an ulcer < 1 cm² and 24 had an ulcer > 1.5 cm². Twenty-five normal feet were used as controls. The lengths of the metatarsal condyles and phalanges (Ph) were measured on plantarodorsal radiographs and three different overall lengths of the digits were generated. The software program SPSS was used for analysis.
Results: The mean lengths of Ph1 and Ph2 and the three mean overall lengths of the lateral digit were greater than those of the medial digit while the length of Ph3 was longer on the medial digit. With one exception, the comparison of overall length 2 of the pre-ulcerative lesion with the control group, the within-feet differences of the ulcer groups were not significantly different from the difference of the controls.
Conclusion and clinical relevance: These results corroborate the length asymmetry of the bovine digits but further studies are needed to evaluate the effect of the asymmetry of the digits on the development of sole ulcers.