Santos MP, Gutierrez-Nibeyro SD, McKnight AL, et al.
Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2015;56:407-416.
With the recent introduction of a 0.25T rotating MRI system, clinical evaluation of the equine stifle joint is now possible in the average equine athlete. A recent publication described common abnormalities of horses with stifle lameness detected with a low-field MRI system; however, postmortem corroboration of the lesions detected was not possible. Therefore, our objective was to compare postmortem findings with low-field MRI findings in equine cadaver stifle joints. Ten fresh cadaver stifle joints from horses without clinical signs of stifle disease were evaluated using low-field MRI, gross dissection, and histopathology. In eight stifles, either the lateral or medial cranial meniscotibial ligament had an irregular shape, fiber separation, or moderate abnormal signal intensity (SI) on all sequences. In five stifles, the medial femoral condyle had articular cartilage fibrillation with or without an osteochondral defect over the weight bearing surface of the medial femoral condyle. All stifles had abnormal SI on all sequences within the patellar ligaments that corresponded with adipose tissue infiltrating between the collagen bundles. Other abnormalities identified included articular cartilage fibrillation of the tibial condyles in three stifles, and articular cartilage fibrillation with chondral defects in the patella in three stifles. All abnormalities detected with low-field MRI were corroborated by gross dissection. Findings from the current study supported the use of low-field MRI for detection of stifle joint lesions in horses and demonstrated that some stifle joint pathologies may be subclinical in horses.