We report the use of low-field standing magnetic resonance imaging in the standing horse for the diagnosis of osseous lesions in the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) or metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint that were not apparent using standard radiography. Thirteen horses were studied and all had thickening of the subchondral bone plate and abnormal signal intensity in the adjacent spongiosa in either the condyles of metacarpal/metatarsal III or the proximal phalanx or both. Abnormalities were characterized by diffuse decreased signal intensity on T1-weighting adjacent to the subchondral bone and within the spongiosa in at least two imaging planes; in the absence of increases in signal intensity in fat-suppressed images, this change was interpreted as bone sclerosis. Nine horses also had a diffuse decreased signal intensity on T2*-weighting in the same areas and five had a diffuse increase in signal intensity in fat-suppressed images in conjunction with a decrease in signal intensity on T1- and T2*-weighted images; the increase in signal intensity in fat-suppressed images was interpreted as fluid accumulation. Five horses had a focal area of change in signal intensity within the subchondral bone with apparent loss of definition between the subchondral bone and the articular cartilage. Eleven horses were available for follow up, of which eight were sound and three remained lame. We conclude that lameness originating from the MCP or MTP joint may be associated with osseous damage in horses of any signalment in the absence of radiographic changes.
Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound