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Endoscopic examination of the tarsal sheath of the lateral digital flexor tendon in horses.

by E R Cauvin, J Tapprest, G a Munroe, S a May, M C Schramme
Equine veterinary journal ()


This study was designed to develop a reliable technique for endoscopic examination of the tarsal sheath of the lateral digital flexor tendon of horses. The anatomy of the tendon sheath and associated structures was studied in detail in cadavers before determining portals for the insertion of an arthroscope into the sheath. Approaches into the sheath through the proximal pouch and through the flexor retinaculum, at the level of the sustentaculum tali, were performed and compared in cadavers. The proximal pouch portal permitted visualisation only of the proximal half of the sheath, while the approach through the retinaculum allowed examination of the entire sheath. The normal endoscopic appearance of the tarsal sheath was studied. The endoscopic approach was subsequently used to examine and treat 5 horses with tarsal sheath tenosynovitis, including 2 cases of chronic, traumatic tenosynovitis and 3 of subacute septic tenosynovitis. Four of these horses had fragmentation of the sustentaculum tali. The technique allowed adequate examination of the sheath and debridement of adhesions and lesions within the lumen of the sheath. Fragments dorsal to the medioplantar edge of the sustentaculum tali could not be visualised endoscopically and had to be removed after widening of the wound. All 5 horses survived. Follow-up enquiries (8-31 months) revealed that the horses were all reported to be sound. Four were performing at their previous level of activity, 1 was used for hacking. The 2 cases presented with chronic tenosynovitis had residual sheath distension with no associated loss of function. A prospective study, including longer term follow-up investigation, is currently being performed.

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