Histological Changes in the Deep Branch of the Lateral Palmar Nerve of Horses With Induced Proximal Suspensory Desmitis

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Abstract

Desmitis of the proximal aspect of the suspensory ligament, or interosseus medius muscle, of the pelvic or thoracic limb is a commonly diagnosed cause of lameness of performance horses. Despite medical treatments available for horses with proximal suspensory desmitis (PSD), most horses treated medically for PSD of a pelvic limb remain persistently lame; this persistent lameness may be the result of a neuropathy caused by compression of nerves by an enlarged suspensory ligament. Few horses with PSD of a thoracic limb remain persistently lame. Based on the results of reports citing successful treatment of horses chronically lame because of PSD of a pelvic or thoracic limb, by excising a portion of the deep branch of the lateral plantar or palmar nerve (DBLPlN/DBLPaN), we theorized that persistent lameness of horses caused by PSD of a thoracic limb may also be due to compression of nerves that supply the ligament. The aim of this study was to determine if histological signs of compression neuropathy of the DBLPaN are present in horses with PSD in a thoracic limb. To test this hypothesis, we induced PSD by instilling collagenase into the ligament and then examined the DBLPaN after harvesting this nerve 2 months later. We found that the DBLPaNs of all treated limbs showed histologic changes suggestive of nerve compression. We conclude that studies examining the DBLPaN of horses with naturally occurring PSD for histological evidence of neuropathy are warranted.

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