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Equine Vet J. 2000 Sep;32(5):369-78.

Superficial digital flexor tendonitis in the horse.

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University Veterinary Centre Camden, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, NSW, Australia.


The superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) is an elastic structure that during maximal exercise appears to operate close to its functional limits. The biomechanical and biochemical responses to exercise, injury, and healing are still poorly understood but ongoing research is providing valuable new information which is addressed in this review. It appears that the SDFT matures early, after which time it has limited ability to adapt to stress and undergoes progressive degeneration. Focal hypocellularity, collagen fibril degeneration, selective fibril loading and alterations in the noncollagenous matrix occur primarily within the central core region of the midmetacarpal segment. Current treatment strategies have had equivocal results in returning animals to optimal athletic activity. To date it would seem that progressive rehabilitation programmes coupled with regular ultrasonographic evaluations are a cost-effective and comparable strategy when compared to surgical treatment methods. Recent interest in pharmacological modulation of intrinsic healing of collagenous structures has led to the investigation of various growth factors as potential therapeutic aids in the healing of tendon injuries. However, one of the major goals in tendon research, and one which holds the most optimism for success in the immediate future, is the prevention of tendon injuries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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