BackgroundUltrasonography can be used anywhere and allows rapid, noninvasive differentiation of soft tissue structures of the musculoskeletal system. The objectives of this study were to describe the ultrasonographic appearance of the structures of the metacarpo-/metatarsophalangeal and the interphalangeal joints, the appearance of the growth plates of the distal metacarpus/metatarsus and of the proximal phalanx and to measure the cross-sectional dimensions of the DDFT and SDFT in Nellore and Girolando calves eight to 12 months of age.ResultsIn the longitudinal dorsal view the common digital extensor tendon and the digital extensor tendon were depicted as echogenic parallel fiber bundles located directly under the skin. The joint spaces appeared as anechoic interruptions of the hyperechogenic bone surfaces. The normal amount of synovial fluid could not be depicted. The growth plates were seen as anechoic interruptions of the bone surface proximal and distal to the fetlock joint space. In transverse sonograms of the distal palmar/plantar regions, the flexor tendons and branchs of the suspensory ligament were imaged as echogenic structures. The lumen of the digital flexor tendon sheath could not be imaged in these normal cattle. The thin digital distal annular ligament and the reversal of positions of the DDFT and SDFT could be appreciated. No significant differences were found between the cross-sectional measurements of the DDFT and the SDFT from Nellore and Girolando in any age, thoracic/pelvic limbs, right/left sides and lateral/medial digits.ConclusionsThe results of this study establish important ultrasonographic reference data of the normal structures of the distal limbs and the normal dimensions of the flexor tendons in Nellore and Girolando calves for use in clinical practice.
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