Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Gross Postmortem, And Histological Findings For Soft Tissues Of The Plantar Aspect Of The Tarsus And Proximal Metatarsal Region In Non-Lame Horses

Dyson S, Blunden A, Murray R.

Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2017;58:216-227.

Injuries of the plantar soft tissues of the tarsus and proximal metatarsus can be a source of lameness in horses, however published information is lacking on high field MRI characteristics of these tissues. Objectives of the current anatomic study were to (1) describe high-field MRI features of the plantar tarsal and proximal metatarsal soft tissues; and (2) compare MRI findings with gross and histological appearances of selected structures for a sample of cadaver limbs from non-lame horses. Single hindlimbs for 42 horses, and right and left hindlimbs for eight horses were scanned using high-field MRI. The MRI findings were described for the 50 single limbs; and the MRI, gross postmortem and histological findings were compared for the eight pairs of hindlimbs. The superficial digital flexor tendon had uniform low signal intensity, surrounded by the flexor retinaculum of intermediate to high signal intensity on all sequences. The lateral digital flexor tendon had slightly higher signal intensity, enclosed on the plantaromedial aspects by the low signal intensity metatarsocalcaneal ligament. The accessory ligament of the deep digital flexor tendon varied in size and signal intensity. The proximal and distal plantar ligaments, accessory ligament of the suspensory ligament, and calcaneoquartal ligament had low signal intensity. The long plantar ligament comprised a number of related parts, separated by lines of high signal intensity corresponding with fibrous septae seen in gross anatomical specimens. The plantar aspect of the ligament had uniform low signal intensity in all sequences, but the dorsal half was more heterogeneous with multifocal spots or lines of higher signal intensity.