Equine carpal sheath effusion has multiple etiologies. The purpose of this retrospective study was to describe the prevalence of distinct musculoskeletal lesions lameness in a sample of horses with a clinical diagnosis of carpal sheath effusion.
A total of 121 horses met inclusion criteria. Seventy-four percent (89/121) of horses were lame at presentation; middle-aged (9–18 years, 80%) and older (> 18 years, 85%) horses were lame more frequently than young horses (< 9 years, 44%). Ninety-three percent (113/121) were diagnosed with osseous and/or soft tissue abnormalities. Of these 113 horses, 10 exhibited osseous abnormalities, whereas 111 were diagnosed with soft tissue lesions. Eighty-four percent (93/111) of the soft tissue injuries extended from the caudodistal antebrachium to the palmar metacarpus.
The superficial digital flexor tendon (98/111; 88%) and accessory ligament of the superficial digital flexor tendon (64/111; 58%) were the most commonly injured structures, with both structures affected in 41 (41/111; 37%) horses. Injuries within the caudodistal antebrachium included the superficial digital flexor musculotendinous junction (66), the accessory ligament of the superficial digital flexor tendon (64), and deep digital flexor muscle (21), in isolation or in combination with other structures. Increased echogenicity in the medial superficial digital flexor musculotendinous junction was detected in 40 horses and was significantly associated with increasing age (middle-aged, 19/40; old, 18/40).
Findings from this study indicated that age should be taken into consideration for horses presented with carpal sheath effusion and that adjacent structures within the caudodistal antebrachium should be included in evaluations.