Reasons for performing study: There is limited knowledge about the interpretation of alterations in the distal sesamoidean impar ligament (DSIL) detected using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and their correlation with histopathology.
Hypotheses: There would be: 1) a correlation between histopathology and MRI findings; and 2) a relationship between MR abnormalities at the origin and the insertion of the DSIL, between insertion and body; and origin and body.
Methods: Fifty limbs from 28 horses were examined using high-field MRI and histopathology. MR abnormalities of the DSIL, its origin on the navicular bone and its insertion on the distal phalanx were graded. Sections of the axial third of the DSIL were examined histologically and graded according to fibre orientation, integrity of fibroblasts, collagen architecture and vascularity. Associations between MRI and histology findings were tested by Spearman rank correlation and Chi-squared tests.
Results: There were significant correlations between the presence of a cystic structure in the distal third of the navicular bone, or a distal border fragment, or increased signal intensity in fat suppressed images at the insertion of the DSIL on the distal phalanx and the histological grade of the body of the DSIL. There were significant associations between a cystic structure in the distal third of the navicular bone and the presence of either a distal border fragment or entheseous new bone at the insertion of the DSIL, swelling of the DSIL and increased signal intensity in the DSIL in fat suppressed images; between distal elongation of the flexor border of the navicular bone and the presence of one or more distal border fragments and between swelling of the body of the DSIL and irregularity of its palmar border or increased signal intensity in fat suppressed images in the DSIL.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: The presence of a cystic structure in the distal third of the navicular bone detected using MRI, a distal border fragment or increased signal intensity at the insertion of the DSIL are suggestive of significant alterations in the infrastructure of the DSIL.