Seventy-two horses with recent onset of navicular syndrome and normal radiographs were assessed. Horses underwent magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of both front feet. All abnormalities were characterized and the most severe abnormality identified, if possible. Abnormal signal intensity in the navicular bone was the most severe abnormality in 24 (33%) horses. Pathologic change in the deep digital flexor tendon was the most severe abnormality in 13 (18%) horses. Pathologic change in the collateral sesamoidean ligament was the most severe abnormality in 11 (15%) horses. Pathologic change in the distal sesamoidean impar ligament was the most severe abnormality in seven (10%) horses. Multiple abnormalities were observed in 13 (18%) horses in which an abnormality that was more severe than the others could not be determined. Abnormalities were not observed in the navicular bone or its supporting soft tissues in four (5%) horses. Fifty-six horses had abnormalities that were most severe in one limb; in 52 (93%) horses, the most severe abnormalities were in the foot of the most lame limb. In 7% (4/56) of horses, the most severe findings were in the opposite limb, and in 16 horses, the findings on both limbs were similar. MR imaging is a useful technique for evaluating horses with navicular syndrome and can differentiate between multiple abnormalities. This provides a more specific diagnosis which affects further treatment of the horse. Pathologic changes in different locations in the foot can cause similar clinical signs that, before MR imaging, were categorized as one syndrome.
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Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound