Gaining A Clearer Picture Of Navicular Problems

The role of medical imaging in treatment and management decisions



“No foot, no horse.” On this age-old adage, we can all agree. But what, specifically, is wrong in that foot? Traditionally, the hoof capsule and its contents have thwarted our best efforts to understand what is going on or what is going wrong in the foot.

Over the past 15 years, medical imaging has undergone remarkable advances that have im­pacted every aspect of equine prac­tice from colic management to lameness diagnosis and corrective farriery. For example, “navicular disease” was poorly understood, largely be­cause eval­uation of the foot was lim­ited to radiographs. Mo­dern di­ag­nostic imaging — in particular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) — has dramatically increased our understanding of exactly what causes horses to be lame in the foot.

MRI and CT can be used to determine the structure (or structures) involved and the nature of the injury. This information can then direct a meaningful approach to corrective shoeing, medications, surgery and exercise/rehabilitation regimes.

Farrier Takeaways

Advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) have resulted in a greater understanding of injuries and pain associated with the caudal part of the equine foot.

The information derived from MRI and CT can direct a meaningful approach to helping the horse including corrective shoeing, medications, surgery, as well as exercise and rehabilitation.

MRI or CT should be considered in cases of hoof-related lameness

In order to illustrate some of the util­ity of medical imaging and the new understanding of “navicular syndrome,” we will consider four different cases…

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Sarah M. Puchalski

DVM, DACVR and Weston Davis, DVM, DACVS

Sarah Puchalski is a diagnostic imaging consulting based at Circle Oak Equine in Petaluma, Calif., and Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Wellington, Fla.

Weston Davis

Weston Davis is an equine surgeon at Palm Beach Equine Clinic in Wellington, Fla.

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