Equine Thermography – Hoof Balance Issues, Lameness

Thermography of Lameness Caused by Hoof Balance Issues

Hoof Inflammation(2)

Hoof Inflammation(2)

In this case we have a beautiful 29 old Arabian mare suffering of a mystery lameness.

After retiring from the life of an accomplished performance athlete, she now enjoys an active but quieter life full of long trail riding adventures in the company of her loving first owner. Through her life, this mare suffered a number of injuries including torn suspensory ligaments, a broken fibula and hoof infections to name a few. Unfortunately, some of these seem to have residual effects up to this point. Her current symptoms include significant sensitivity on hard surfaces as well as severe lameness . The owner was initially suspecting the issue to be in the left front and left hind legs.

Ultimately, our full body thermography revealed several locations and issues leading to this horse’s acute pain and lameness. Thermal imaging has many advantages including being non-invasive, sedation free and mobile. Thermography has also a multifocal ability – in one full body imaging session it can pinpoint all the areas with dysfunctions and/or pathologies ( characterized by heat asymmetries in the animal’s body).

Loss of Frog Hypothermia

Loss of Frog Hypothermia

In our case, thermography detected a bilateral loss of frog hypothermia in the forefeet, which may indicate a deep foot pathology (low ringbone / pedal osteitis?). Given the clinical signs of discomfort, further clinical correlation of this area was advised. The scans revealed an increased heel temperature differential in the front right, which suggests that the right front foot is worse affected.

Bilateral hoof imbalance behind was revealed as well and underlined by thermal findings on planter  views. Left side was more affected (see first picture).

Furthermore, inflammation in the right front suspensory ligament indicated a pathology persistent despite 18 months since injury to this region. A diffused hyperthermia of the right fetlock may be secondary to proximal inflammation of the suspensory ligament.

Additionally, a significant gluteal asymmetry was revealed. It may be secondary to chronic imbalance in the front feet, however clinical correlation to rule out pelvic dysfunction was advised (…although thermal scans did not indicate inflammation of the SI joints or any secondary neuropathy due to pelvic pathology).

Lastly, no thermal evidence of rear suspensory pathology was observed. Diffused hyperthermia of the right thigh may be secondary to old fibular fracture.

In our case study, thermography of hoof balance revealed critical information on the causes of  this mare’s lameness in addition to other  notable dysfunctions such as gluteal inflammation and hyperthermia  in the hock.                                                                                  

Both the thermal scans and the thermography interpretation report were carefully reviewed by the owner and the primary vet who in turn was able to formulate a new diagnostic impression and a successful treatment protocol.