Review Article

Axial sesamoiditis in the horse: A review

Christelle Le Roux, Ann Carstens
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 89 | a1544 | DOI: | © 2018 Christelle Le Roux, Ann Carstens | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 May 2017 | Published: 29 March 2018

About the author(s)

Christelle Le Roux, Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Onderstepoort, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Ann Carstens, Department of Small Animal Clinical Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Onderstepoort, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Axial sesamoiditis or osteitis of the proximal sesamoid bones (PSBs) in the horse is described as a rare condition. The cause remains unknown and speculative, with vascular, infectious, and traumatic aetiologies implicated. It is specifically associated with injury of the palmar or plantar ligament (PL), also known as the intersesamoidean ligament. Imaging findings are generally rewarding and radiological changes are typical, if not pathognomonic, for the condition. Lesions consist of bone lysis at the apical to mid-body axial margins of the PSBs, with variable degrees of joint effusion. Radiographic technique warrants careful attention to make a diagnosis, and exposure factors may need to be adjusted. Perineural, intra-articular and intra-thecal anaesthesia does not seem to provide consistent improvement of lameness in these cases, with literature reporting inconsistent findings. Ultrasonographic findings include digital flexor sheath effusion, loss of the normal fibre structure of the PL at its attachment to the PSBs, abnormal echogenicity or change in thickness of the PL, and irregular hyperechoic cortical margins of the axial margins of the PSBs. Scintigraphy, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, although not necessary to make a diagnosis, may add valuable information regarding the location and extent of lesions. The prognosis remains guarded to poor for return to athletic function. The focus of this paper is a comprehensive review of the proposed aetiopathogenesis of the condition, the prognosis, and a summary of the literature findings with focus on the notable diagnostic imaging features, including radiography, ultrasonography, scintigraphy, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.


axial sesamoiditis; horse; osteitis; proximal sesamoid bones


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