Equine veterinarians can now objectively monitor tendon healing using a technique called ultrasonographic tissue characterization (UTC), said researchers from The Netherlands.

While a number of novel therapies for tendon healing have been introduced recently, means of evaluating their clinical utility is difficult. Developed by Gerco Bosch, DVM, PhD, an assistant professor at Utrecht University, and colleagues, the UTC technique stores ultrasound images at regular distances along the long axis of the tendon. These images are combined to create a three-dimensional (3D) image. Accurate information about the 3D arrangement of the tendon is provided.

The group evaluated UTC in six horses with an experimentally-created lesion of the superficial digital flexor tendon treated with either platelet-rich plasma or a placebo (saline).

They found that UTC detected significant differences during the healing process between the two groups of horses. By the end of the study, more than 80% of pixels (measured by UTC) showed correct alignment in the PRP group, compared with approximately 60% in the placebo group.

According to the researchers, "computerized analysis of ultrasonographic images is an excellent tool for objective longitudinal monitoring of the effects treatments for superficial digital flexor tendon lesions in horses."

Details regarding UTC are available in the study, "Computerised analysis of standardized ultrasonographic images to monitor the repair of surgically created core lesions in equine superficial digital flexor tendons following treatment with intratendinous platelet rich plasma or placebo," which is scheduled to be published in an upcoming edition of The Veterinary Journal. The abstract is available on PubMed.

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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