Accuracy of open magnetic resonance imaging for guiding injection of the equine deep digital flexor tendon within the hoof

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Groom LM, White NA, Adams MN, et al.

Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2017;58:671-678.

Lesions of the distal deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT) are frequently diagnosed using MRI in horses with foot pain. Intralesional injection of biologic therapeutics shows promise in tendon healing; however, accurate injection of distal deep digital flexor tendon lesions within the hoof is difficult. The aim of this experimental study was to evaluate accuracy of a technique for injection of the deep digital flexor tendon within the hoof using MRI-guidance, which could be performed in standing patients. We hypothesized that injection of the distal deep digital flexor tendon within the hoof could be accurately guided using open low-field MRI to target either the lateral or medial lobe at a specific location. Ten cadaver limbs were positioned in an open, low-field MRI unit. Each distal deep digital flexor tendon lobe was assigned to have a proximal (adjacent to the proximal aspect of the navicular bursa) or distal (adjacent to the navicular bone) injection. A titanium needle was inserted into each tendon lobe, guided by T1-weighted transverse images acquired simultaneously during injection. Colored dye was injected as a marker and postinjection MRI and gross sections were assessed. The success of injection as evaluated on gross section was 85% (70% proximal, 100% distal). The success of injection as evaluated by MRI was 65% (60% proximal, 70% distal). There was no significant difference between the success of injecting the medial versus lateral lobe. The major limitation of this study was the use of cadaver limbs with normal tendons. The authors conclude that injection of the distal deep digital flexor tendon within the hoof is possible using MRI guidance.