Feasibility and safety of contrast-enhanced ultrasound in the distal limb of six horses

Seiler GS, Campbell N, Nixon B, Tsuruta JK, Dayton PA, Jennings S, Redding WR, Lustgarten M. Vet Radiol Ultrasound. 2016 May; 57 (3): 282-9.

Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) could be a valuable method for evaluation of blood flow and perfusion of these processes in the equine distal limb, however no reports were found describing feasibility or safety of the technique. The goal of this prospective, experimental study was to describe the feasibility and safety of distal limb CEUS in a sample of six horses.

For each horse, CEUS of the distal limb was performed after intravenous injections of 5 and 10 ml, as well as intra-arterial injections of 0.5 and 1 ml contrast medium. Vital parameters were monitored and CEUS images were assessed qualitatively and quantitatively for degree of contrast enhancement.

None of the horses had clinically significant changes in their vital parameters after contrast medium injection. One horse had a transient increase in respiratory rate, and several horses had mild increases of systolic blood pressure of short duration after intravenous, but not after intra-arterial injections. Intra-arterial injection was possible in all horses and resulted in significantly improved contrast enhancement both quantitatively (P = 0.027) and qualitatively (P = 0.019).

Findings from this study indicated that CEUS is a feasible and safe diagnostic test for evaluation of the equine distal limb. Future studies are needed to assess the clinical utility of this test for horses with musculoskeletal diseases.