Application of sonoelastography for evaluating the stiffness of equine superficial digital flexor tendon during healing

Vet Rec. 2017 Feb 4;180(5):120. doi: 10.1136/vr.103869. Epub 2016 Nov 23.


Sonoelastography can assess the inner stiffness of tissues. Sonoelastographic evaluation of injured equine superficial digital flexor tendons (SDFTs) is considered to be useful for assessing the stiffness of a lesion even during late-stage rehabilitation. The purpose of this study was to investigate and compare the sonoelastographic appearance of injured SDFTs over time from the onset of the injury. Eighteen horses were classified into three groups according to the length of time from injury onset: group A, within two weeks after injury; group B, approximately five months after injury; and group C, approximately nine months after injury. Longitudinal and transverse images of all injured SDFTs were obtained using grey-scale ultrasonography and sonoelastography. Grey-scale and sonoelastographic images were evaluated by two observers using echogenicity-grading and colour-grading systems, respectively. The authors evaluated the interobserver agreement and compared the grades among the three groups. The results indicated almost perfect interobserver agreement. Significant differences were found in the sonoelastography among the three groups, whereas no significant difference was found in the grey-scale ultrasonography between groups B and C. Sonoelastography is a feasible and useful modality to evaluate the equine injured SDFTs in vivo and to distinguish between them among the different phases even during the chronic phase.

Keywords: Horses; Rehabilitation; sonoelastography; stiffness; tendon.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques / veterinary*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Horses / injuries*
  • Observer Variation
  • Tendon Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Tendon Injuries / physiopathology
  • Tendon Injuries / veterinary*
  • Ultrasonography / veterinary
  • Wound Healing / physiology*