Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Animal Science


Animal Science


Matthew A. Burd


Musculoskeletal injuries are the most common injuries sustained by athletes and military recruits and can result in decreased performance and lifelong disability. So common and costly are these injuries that the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons has provided guidelines for future research, including recommendations for the development of a large animal model of bone injury (USDA 2001). In human and veterinary medicine, digital radiography represents the primary diagnostic tool the physician uses to diagnose skeletal injury. Advances in digital radiography have provided the veterinarian with opportunities to make both simple and complex radiographic assessments. We investigated a simple quantitative measurement of the solar, concave aspect of the distal phalanx in the horse, termed the Palmar-Metric (PM). The PM was a significant predictor of solar cup volume (p < 0.001) and negatively correlated with age (r2 = 0.28, p < 0.05) as determined from 544 radiographs of the distal phalanx from the left and right front feet. Therefore, veterinarians should be aware of the age related change in the solar, concave aspect of the distal phalanx in the horse.

We hypothesized that the decrease in the degree of concavity with age may be due to demineralization and subsequent loss of bone density along the solar margin of the distal phalanx. Therefore, we investigated the quantification of optical bone density (bone OD) via complex radiographic calibration. By developing a brightness/darkness index (BDI), the greyscale of radiographs, calibrated with an aluminum marker of varying known thickness, can be compared to the average density of a cross-section of bone. At varying radiographic exposure intensity (kV) and exposure time (mAs), Al BDI was a significant predictor of bone BDI (r2 = 0.960, p < 0.001) and bone OD (r2 = 0.971, p < 0.001). This method of calibration can be utilized by the radiologist to accurately assess bone OD regardless of technique, and allow direct comparison of radiographs taken under different exposure settings. This method successfully quantifies bone OD via measurement of BDI from standardized digital radiographs, allowing for the opacity of radiographs to be truly comparable when taken under different circumstances.

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Radiology Commons