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Variation in the MRI signal intensity of naturally occurring equine superficial digital flexor tendinopathies over a 12-month period
  1. Dagmar Berner1,2,
  2. Walter Brehm2,3,
  3. Kerstin Gerlach2,
  4. Julia Offhaus2,
  5. Doreen Scharner2 and
  6. Janina Burk4,5
  1. 1Equine Referral Hospital, Royal Veterinary College Clinical Services Division, Hatfield, UK
  2. 2Department for Horses, University of Leipzig Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Leipzig, Sachsen, Germany
  3. 3Saxon Incubator for Clinical Translation, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Sachsen, Germany
  4. 4Institute for Veterinary Physiology, University of Leipzig Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Leipzig, Sachsen, Germany
  5. 5Equine Clinic (Surgery), Justus-Liebig-University Giessen Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Giessen, Hessen, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Dr Dagmar Berner, Equine Referral Hospital, Royal Veterinary College Clinical Services Division, Hatfield, UK; dberner{at}


Background Signal intensity (SI) of equine tendinopathies in MRI differs between the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) and the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT). In DDFT lesions, short tau inversion recovery (STIR) SI decreases earlier than T2-weighted (T2w) SI, while the latter decreases earlier in SDFT lesions, but long-term results using STIR sequences are lacking.

Methods Standing MRI of eight horses with naturally occurring SDFT lesions was performed at the day of treatment as well as 2, 6 and 12 months after treatment.

Results After 12 months, six horses were sound and showed complete resolution of increased SI in T2w fast spin echo (FSE) images, but increased SI was found in STIR images in three horses and persisted in T1w and T2*w gradient recall echo images of all horses. In contrast, hyperintense areas were still visible in the SDFT in T2w FSE images in two horses presenting with re-injury. In the six horses without re-injury, percentage of cross-sectional areas affected and SI decreased over time in all sequences.

Conclusions This study suggests that SI in naturally occurring SDFT lesions decreases earlier in T2w FSE than in STIR images, in contrast to the DDFT.

  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • tendon pathophysiology
  • horses
  • musculoskeletal
  • diagnostic imaging
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  • Presented at Parts of this study were presented as oral presentation at the 2016 EVDI Annual Conference, Wroclaw, Poland, August 30, 2016–September 3, 2016.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethical approval All procedures were performed in accordance with the local Animal Care and Use Committee requirements (Landesdirektion Leipzig, TV 34/13).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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