Ultrasonographic examination was used to define the severity of injuries to the superficial digital flexor tendon in 73 National Hunt or point-to-point racehorses and the factors influencing the outcome of the cases were examined. Thirty-four of the horses (46 per cent) returned to work with an average time out of training of 13.5 months. The rate of recurrence of the injury was 35 per cent. The severity of the lesions was related to the outcome; all the mildly affected horses returned to work, with 63 per cent of them racing and an average time out of training of 10.2 months; 50 per cent of the moderately affected horses returned to work, and 30 per cent raced with an average time out of training of 11.3 months; 30 per cent of the severely affected horses worked, and 23 per cent raced with an average time out of training of 18.3 months. The differences in outcome between unilateral and bilateral injuries within each severity group were not statistically significant. Seventy-six per cent of horses treated with polysulphated glycosaminoglycans returned to work, compared with 46 per cent of conservatively managed horses and 50 per cent of horses treated with laser therapy. However, these differences were not statistically significant and the rate of recurrence of the injury in the horses treated with polysulphated glycosaminoglycans was 50 per cent compared with only 31 per cent in the conservatively managed horses. Seventy per cent of the mares and 47 per cent of the geldings were retired from racing.
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