Model Formulation and Determination of in Vitro Parameters of a Noninvasive Method to Calculate Flexor Tendon Forces in the Equine Forelimb

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American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To describe a method to calculate flexor tendon forces on the basis of inverse dynamic analysis and an in vitro model of the equine forelimb and to quantify parameters for the model.

Sample Population—38 forelimbs of 23 horses that each had an estimated body mass of ≥ 500 kg.

Procedure—Longitudinal limb sections were used to determine the lines of action of the tendons. Additionally, limb and tendon loading experiments were performed to determine mechanical properties of the flexor tendons.

Results—The study quantified the parameters for a pulley model to describe the lines of action. Furthermore, relationships between force and strain of the flexor tendons and between fetlock joint angle and suspensory ligament strain were determined, and the ultimate strength of the tendons was measured.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—The model enables noninvasive determination of forces in the suspensory ligament, superficial digital flexor tendon, and distal part of the deep digital flexor (DDF) tendon. In addition, it provides a noninvasive measure of loading of the accessory ligament of the DDF tendon for within-subject comparisons. However, before application, the method should be validated. The model could become an important tool for use in research of the cause, prevention, and treatment of tendon injuries in horses.