The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association recently reported on using Doppler ultrasound to evaluate the digital pulse in horses with either systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) or laminitis (founder). It should be noted that SIRS can lead to or be associated with laminitis.
The goal of this study out of the veterinary teaching hospital at the University of Murcia in Spain was to look at a noninvasive but objective way to evaluate horses with these problems. Carla N. Aguirre, DVM PhD was the lead investigator on this study.
Progress in both of these problems is often measured by people feeling their horse’s digital pulse. Unfortunately each individual has a slightly different “feel for the pulse. A pulse may be “bounding” to you but not to your barn manager. Many of the current objective techniques require invasive actions such as injecting dyes to follow.
Bottom Line: This study showed that simple Doppler ultrasound can pick up differences in digital pulse flow in horses. This is most useful if the horse has laminitis. In the future this may be an easy way to follow the recovery (hopefully) and/or development of laminitis in your horse.
How to take a digital pulse from Rood & Riddle:
Debra M. Eldredge DVM, Contributing Veterinary Editor