Stifle radiographs are a standard diagnostic used in hind limb lameness exams where a problem is suspected to originate from this area, resulting from trauma, infection, or genetic defects. The function and anatomy of the stifle is complex. It contains the femoral tibal joint (medial and lateral) and the femoral patella, the latter of which can sometimes become “locked.”
The stifle is the highest (most proximal) part of the equine limb that can be x-rayed in a standing horse with conventional radiographic equipment. Even then, this anatomy requires powerful x-ray generators to penetrate the massive musculature at this level. Typically, in this series two to four radiographs are taken from different angles around the limb.
Reasons to UseRelated Observations
High quality radiographs of the stifle provide valuable information regarding the bony structures and joints within this area. Even if there are no obvious issues in this area at the time, radiographs may provide a useful baseline for future comparison.
The stifle is heavily muscled and radiographic positioning and technique can be difficult. Because of the tissue thickness, radiographs are often less detailed than those performed on the lower limb. We are becoming increasingly aware of conditions affecting soft tissues in this area that are not captured in radiographic images.
Additional diagnostics that are better able to visualize soft tissue injuries or abnormalities may be necessary.
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