Correlation Between the Conformation of the Distal Forelimb and Superficial Digital Flexor Tendon Lesions in Flat Racing Thoroughbreds

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Abstract

The aim of the study was to determine the correlation between front limb conformation and the development of superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) lesions in flat racing Thoroughbred horses. Ninety-three 4-year-old flat racing Thoroughbreds trained in the same training facility were included in the study; 66 horses were orthopedically sound, and 27 had a history of an SDFT injury. Four different radiographic images of the distal parts of both front limbs were taken from each horse. After testing the repeatability of 18 digitally measured parameters, these measurements were taken for all the animals. The possible effect of conformation on SDFT lesion development was assessed by analyzing the association between each measured variable and the sound and/or lesion status of the horses. Differences between the two groups for each parameter were analyzed using t statistics. Sound horses showed a greater proximal interphalangeal dorsal joint angle than horses with an SDFT lesion. A smaller distal width of the middle phalanx was also associated with fewer tendon lesions. However, none of the measured conformational parameters showed a strong association with the development of SDFT lesions. It appears that conformational traits of the distal parts of the forelimb of flat racing Thoroughbreds are not a major contributing factor to the development of SDFT injury if analyzed separately.

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