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Monitoring bowed tendons


S. Plevin


Trainer Magazine. 2020 issue 71:48-52.

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Overstrain injuries to the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) are among the most common musculoskeletal injuries for all athletic equine disciplines but account for a significant amount of wastage in the thoroughbred racehorse. Treatment options for such ‘bowed tendons’ are many and varied, but all have a couple of things in common: time out of training; expense and no guarantee of success. It makes sense then, that prevention of injury should always be the goal, and failing that, a method to optimally guide rehabilitation is needed. Unfortunately, limitations of current imaging diagnostics have restricted their use for accurately monitoring the tendon. A new ultrasound technology, however, called ultrasound tissue characterisation, may get us one step closer to achieving the goals of injury prevention and optimal rehabilitation.

Conclusion: While the current scientific literature seems to support the use of ultrasound tissue characterisation to guide rehabilitation and monitor the effects of changing loads during training on the tendon, anecdotal accounts from both human and equine clinical practice also report the ability of ultrasound tissue characterisation to warn of impending injury.

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