REASONS FOR PERFORMING STUDY: The diagnosis of lameness caused by proximal metacarpal and metatarsal pain can be challenging. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offers the possibility for further diagnosis but there have been no studies on the normal MRI appearance of the origin of the suspensory ligament (OSL) in conjunction with ultrasonography and histology.
OBJECTIVES: To describe the MRI appearance of the OSL in fore- and hindlimbs of sound horses and compare it to the ultrasonographic and histological appearance. The findings can be used as reference values to recognise pathology in the OSL.
METHODS: The OSL in the fore- and hindlimbs of 6 sound horses was examined by ultrasonography prior to death, and MRI and histology post mortem. Qualitative evaluation and morphometry of the OSL were performed and results of all modalities compared.
RESULTS: Muscular tissue, artefacts, variable SL size and shape complicated ultrasonographic interpretation. In MRI and histology the forelimb OSL consisted of 2 portions, the lateral being significantly thicker than medial. The hindlimb SL had a single large area of origin. In fore- and hindlimbs, the amount of muscular tissue was significantly larger laterally than medially. Overall SL measurements using MRI were significantly higher than using histology and ultrasonography and histological higher than ultrasonographic measurements. Morphologically, there was a good correlation between MRI and histology.
CONCLUSIONS: MRI provides more detailed information than ultrasonography regarding muscle fibre detection and OSL dimension and correlates morphologically well with histology. Therefore, ultrasonographic results should be regarded with caution.
POTENTIAL RELEVANCE: MRI may be a diagnostic aid when other modalities fail to identify clearly the cause of proximal metacarpal and metatarsal pain; and may improve selection of adequate therapy and prognosis for injuries in this region.