Objective: To evaluate effectiveness of computerized discrimination between structure-related and non-structure-related echoes in ultrasonographic images for quantitative evaluation of tendon structural integrity in horses.
Sample population: 4 superficial digital flexor tendons (2 damaged tendons, 2 normal tendons).
Procedure: Transverse ultrasonographic images that precisely matched histologic sections were obtained in fixed steps along the long axis of each tendon. Distribution, intensity, and delineation of structure-related echoes, quantitatively expressed as the correlation ratio and steadiness ratio , were compared with histologic findings in tissue that was normal or had necrosis, early granulation, late granulation, early fibrosis, or inferior repair.
Results: In normal tendon, the even distribution of structure-related echoes with high intensity and sharp delineation yielded high correlation ratio and steadiness ratio. In areas of necrosis, collapsed endotendon septa yielded solid but blurred structure-related echoes (high correlation ration and low steadiness ratio). In early granulation tissue, complete lack of organization caused zero values for both ratios. In late granulation tissue, reorganization and swollen endotendon septa yielded poorly delineated structure-related echoes (high correlation ratio, low steadiness ratio). In early fibrosis, rearrangement of bundles resulted in normal correlation ration and slightly low steadiness ratio. In inferior repair, the almost complete lack of structural reorganization resulted in heterogeneous poorly delineated low-intensity echoes (low correlation ratio and steadiness ratio).
Conclusions and clinical relevance: The combination of correlation ratio and steadiness ratio accurately reflects histopathologic findings, making computerized correlation of ultrasonographic images an efficient tool for quantitative evaluation of tendon structural integrity.