Objective: Even though equine multi-limb tendinopathy models have been reported, it is unknown if fore- and hindlimb tendon healing behave similarly. The aim of this study was to compare the healing process of surgically induced superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) core lesions of fore- and hindlimbs in horses. Methods: Tendon core lesions were surgically induced in the SDFT of both fore- and hindlimbs in eight horses. One randomly assigned forelimb and one randomly assigned hindlimb were injected with saline one and two weeks post-surgery. The healing process was monitored clinically and ultrasonographically. After 24 weeks, the tendons were harvested and biochemical, biomechanical and histological parameters were evaluated. Results: Twenty-four weeks post-surgery, the forelimb SDFT lesions had a significantly higher colour Doppler ultrasound vascularization score (p = 0.02) and glycosaminoglycan concentration (p = 0.04) and a significantly lower hydroxylysylpyridinoline content (p = 0.03). Clinical relevance: Our results indicate that fore- and hindlimb SDFT surgically induced lesions exhibit significant differences in several important parameters of tendon healing 24 weeks post-surgery. These differences create significant challenges in using all four limbs and accurately interpreting the results that one might generate. Therefore these findings do not support the use of four-limb models for study of tendon injury until the reasons for these differences are much better understood.
Veterinary and Comparative Orthopaedics and Traumatology (VCOT)