Reasons for performing study
Artefacts caused by regional anaesthesia can influence image interpretation of ultrasonography and nuclear scintigraphy. Perineural and intrasynovial anaesthesia are commonly performed prior to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); and the effects on MR images, if any, are unknown.
To determine if perineural and intrasynovial anaesthesia of structures in the equine foot cause iatrogenic changes detectable with MRI.
A baseline MRI examination of both front feet was performed on 15 horses, 2–6 days prior to mepivacaine injection adjacent to the lateral and medial palmar digital nerves, and into the podotrochlear bursa, digital flexor tendon sheath and distal interphalangeal joint of one randomly assigned forelimb. Magnetic resonance imaging was repeated at 24 and 72 h post injection; then qualitative and quantitative assessments of MRI findings were performed.
Magnetic resonance imaging findings associated with the palmar digital nerves, podotrochlear bursa and distal interphalangeal joint at 24 and 72 h after mepivacaine injection did not alter significantly from those at baseline. Compared with baseline, a significant increase in synovial fluid volume of the digital flexor tendon sheath was detected with MRI at 24 and 72 h post injection.
Perineural anaesthesia of the palmar digital nerves and intrasynovial anaesthesia of the podotrochlear or distal interphalangeal joint did not interfere with the interpretation of MR images acquired at 24 or 72 h after injection. However, intrasynovial anaesthesia of the digital flexor tendon sheath caused an iatrogenic increase in synovial fluid, detectable on MR images for at least 72 h.
Although a definite time frame for resolution of digital flexor tendon sheath distension was not determined, we recommend waiting more than 3 days between intrasynovial anaesthesia of the digital flexor tendon sheath and evaluation with MRI.