Ultrasonographic Evaluation of the Distal Extremity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Despite the increasing use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound remains a valuable tool to diagnose injuries that cause distal extremity lameness in the horse. The key to a successful examination is a strong knowledge of anatomy in combination with proper ultrasonographic technique and the patience and dedication to learn these skills. Similar to all imaging modalities, it is equally important to recognize and consider the limitations of ultrasound in this region so that findings can be interpreted appropriately. Ultrasound can be used to diagnose injuries to the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT), straight distal sesamoidean ligament and branches of the superficial digital flexor tendon using standard pastern ultrasonographic technique. The addition of newer techniques to image the DDFT at the level of P2, the navicular bursa and the collateral sesamoidean ligament can enhance the diagnostic utility of ultrasound in horses with distal extremity lameness. Although visibility is limited, ultrasound can be used to diagnose collateral ligament injuries of the coffin joint in many affected horses. Transcuneal imaging may be useful in some horses to detect abnormalities of the distal sesamoidean impar ligament and navicular bone, but evaluation of the DDFT is limited. Ultrasound should be considered in all horses with distal extremity lameness, regardless of the ability to perform advanced imaging procedures. Information gained is often complementary to other imaging modalities and may provide the basis for recheck examination purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-59
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Equine Veterinary Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Collateral ligament
  • Deep digital flexor tendon
  • Navicular bursa
  • Pastern
  • Transcuneal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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