Title: Quantitative assessment of the equine hoof using digital radiography and magnetic resonance imaging
Author: I. N. M. GRUNDMANN, W. T. DROST*, L. J. ZEKAS, J. K. BELKNAP, R. B. GARABED†, S. E. WEISBRODE‡, A. H. PARKS§,M. V. KNOPP# and J. MAIERL
Keywords: horse, diagnostic imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, laminitis
Reasons for performing study: Evaluation of laminitis cases relies on radiographic measurements of the equine foot. Reference values have not been established for all layers of the foot.
Objectives: To establish normal hoof wall and sole measurements using digital radiography (DR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and to document tissue components present in the dorsal hoof wall and solar layers seen on DR.
Study design: Prospective observational case–control study.
Methods: Digital radiography and MRI were performed on 50 cadaver front feet from 25 horses subjected to euthanasia for nonlameness-related reasons. Four observers measured hoof wall (dorsal, lateral and medial) and sole thickness (sagittal, lateral and medial) using DR and magnetic resonance images. One observer repeated the measurements 3 times. Inter- and intraobserver correlation was assessed.
Results: Digital radiography and MRI measurements for the normal hoof wall and sole were established. Inter- and intraobserver pairwise Pearson’s correlation for DR (r>0.98) and MRI measurements (r>0.99) was excellent. Based on MRI, the less radiopaque layer on DR is comprised of the stratum lamellatum and stratum reticulare.
Conclusions: Normal DR and MRI measurements for the hoof wall and sole were established. On DR images, the less radiopaque layer of the foot observed corresponds to the critical tissues injured in laminitis, the strata lamellatum and reticulare. These reference measurements may be used by the clinician to detect soft-tissue changes in the laminitic equine foot and provide a foundation for future research determining changes in these measurements in horses with laminitis.