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Equine Practice
Diagnostic ultrasound of the limb joints, muscle and bone in horses
  1. Matthew Smith

    Matthew Smith graduated from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in 2001. He is a hospital surgeon at Reynolds House Referrals in Newmarket. He holds the RCVS certificate in equine surgery (orthopaedics) and the European College of Veterinary Surgeons (ECVS) diploma in large animal surgery. He is an ECVS recognised specialist in large animal surgery.

  2. Roger Smith

    Roger Smith graduated from Cambridge in 1987. He is professor of equine orthopaedics at the RVC. He holds the RCVS diploma in equine orthopaedics, and is both a diplomate of the ECVS and an RCVS specialist in equine surgery. He currently divides his time between running a specialist orthopaedic service within the RVC and continuing to direct research into equine tendon disease.


DIAGNOSTIC ultrasonography for the musculoskeletal system in the horse was first used in the early 1980s. Initial applications were directed towards the diagnosis of flexor tendon and ligament injuries in the distal limb, but this modality is now commonly indicated for the assessment of the stifle, hock, fetlock, carpus, pastern and coffin joints. This article describes the use of diagnostic ultrasound in horses to examine these joints, as well as muscle and bone, outlining normal versus pathological findings in each case. While this imaging technique may also be employed to examine the shoulder, hip, cervical facet and temporomandibular joints, the indications are less frequent and, hence, are not discussed in this article. In all cases, knowledge of the normal anatomy is essential in obtaining diagnostically useful images and aiding interpretation.

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