Background: A technique for intra-arterial injection of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) has been established for front limbs with the use of the median artery. This approach has been proposed for treatment of soft tissue injuries of the equine distal limb. A technique has not been validated yet for hindlimb injection. Objectives: To assess the feasibility of injection of the cranial tibial artery in horses, and to evaluate the distribution and persistence of MSC after injection. Study design: In vivo experiment. Methods: In a first phase, the cranial tibial arteries of both hindlimbs of three research horses were catheterised with ultrasound guidance under general anaesthesia and injected with iodinated contrast. In the second phase, iodinated contrast was injected in three standing sedated horses with ultrasound guidance. In the final phase, 99mTechnetium-HMPAO labelled allogenic bone marrow derived equine MSC were injected under standing sedation with the same technique in three other horses. Scintigraphy was used to assess MSC distribution and persistence for 24 h. Ultrasound was performed 24 h after injection to assess vessel impairment. Results: Arterial injection was achieved in all 18 limbs without any significant complications. Mild partial periarterial injection was observed in four limbs. Scintigraphic images demonstrated diffuse MSC distribution from the tarsal area to the foot. Persistence decreased over time but signal was still present at 24 h. Main limitations: Limited retention of the radiolabel in the MSC. Conclusions: Ultrasound-guided injection of the cranial tibial artery can be performed both under general anaesthesia and standing sedation in horses. This technique could be used for MSC treatment of equine proximal suspensory desmopathy or other injuries in the distal hindlimb.
- regenerative medicine
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