Bone marrow lesions (BMLs) (also known as 'bone bruises', 'bone oedema', 'bone contusions' and 'occult fractures') within the middle phalanx were diagnosed by standing low field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 7 horses. The lesions were characterised by low signal intensity on T1- and T2*-weighted gradient echo sequences, mildly increased signal intensity on T2 fast spin echo sequences, and high signal intensity on short tau inversion recovery (STIR) sequences. Four distinct patterns of abnormal signal were identified: BML associated with osteoarthritis of either the proximal or distal interphalangeal joints; BML associated with soft tissue injury; BML associated with acute trauma; and BML unassociated with any other injury or lameness (assumed to represent bone response to biomechanical stress). Repeat MRI was undertaken in 4 cases. In most cases the BML resolved with rest and time, although lameness was persistent in 2 horses (one of which had an associated osteoarthritis of the proximal interphalangeal joint).
Equine Veterinary Education