Objective: To evaluate quantitative ultrasonography for objective monitoring of the healing process and prognostication of repair quality in equine superficial digital flexor (SDF) tendons.
Animals: 6 horses with standardized surgical lesions in SDF tendons of both forelimbs.
Procedures: Healing was monitored for 20 weeks after surgery by use of computerized ultrasonography. Pixels were categorized as C (intact fasciculi), B (incomplete fasciculi), E (accumulations of cells and fibrils), or N (homogenous fluid or cells). Four scars with the best quality of repair (repair group) and 4 scars with the lowest quality (inferior repair group) were identified histologically. Ratios for C, B, E, and N in both groups were compared.
Results: During 4 weeks after surgery, lesions increased 2- to 4-fold in length and 10-fold in volume. Until week 3 or 4, structure-related C and B ratios decreased sharply, whereas E and N ratios increased. After week 4, C and B ratios increased with gradually decreasing E and N ratios. At week 12, C and B ratios were equivalent. After week 12, C ratio increased slowly, but B ratio more rapidly. At week 20, C ratio remained constant, B ratio was substantially increased, and E and N ratios decreased. Values for the inferior repair group were most aberrant from normal. Ratios for C differed significantly between repair and inferior repair groups at weeks 16 and 18 and for B beginning at 14 weeks.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Computerized ultrasonography provided an excellent tool for objective monitoring of healing tendons in horses and reliable prognostication of repair quality.