Fourteen horses with septic arthritis underwent high-field (1.5 T) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Septic arthritis was diagnosed based on results from historical and clinical findings, synovial fluid analyses and culture, and radiographic, ultrasonographic, arthroscopic, and histopathologic findings. MR findings included diffuse hyperintensity within bone and extracapsular tissue on fat-suppressed images in 14/14 horses (100%), joint effusion, synovial proliferation, and capsular thickening in 13/14 horses (93%), bone sclerosis in 11/14 horses (79%), and evidence of cartilage and subchondral bone damage in 8/14 horses (57%). Intravenous gadolinium was administered to five of the 14 horses and fibrin deposition was noted in all horses. Other findings after gadolinium administration included synovial enhancement in 4/5 (80%) horses, and bone enhancement in 1/5 (20%) horses. The MR findings of septic arthritis in horses were consistent with those reported in people. MRI may allow earlier and more accurate diagnosis of septic arthritis in horses as compared with other imaging modalities, especially when the clinical diagnosis is challenging. It also provides additional information not afforded by other methods that may influence and enhance treatment.
Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound