Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Radiology: thorax

Contributor(s): Fraser McConnell, Brendan Carmel

Introduction

Overview
  • Indications for thoracic radiography   Radiography: thorax   include:
    • Investigation of respiratory signs such as dyspnea   Dyspnea  , sneezing, wheezing.
    • Collapse or syncope.
    • Lethargy or exercise intolerance.
    • Evaluation of suspected cardiac abnormalities   Radiology: cardiac examination  .
    • Thoracic skeleton examinations, eg trauma cases.
  • The relative small thorax and the unique anatomical features of the rabbit make thoracic image interpretation a challenge.
  • The fundamentals of radiography apply to rabbits as they would in any other species.
  • Long-standing illness may be present despite only mild to moderate clinical signs, eg pneumonia.

Any rabbit suffering cardiac and/or respiratory signs is likely to be severely compromised, increasing the difficulty and risks of diagnostic imaging.

  • Differentiating signs of physiological stress, eg tachypnea, from signs of disease can be difficult in the rabbit. A thorough clinical history taking and clinical examination will help determine if the patient requires thoracic radiography.

Positioning and radiographic views

  • At least one lateral and dorsoventral or ventrodorsal view are required in order to assess the thoracic cavity.
  • If only one lateral view is taken, the right lateral is preferred, as this is the most commonly used standard lateral view.
  • Retract the forelegs cranially, if possible, to help prevent superimposition of the scapulae over the cranial portion of the thorax.
  • A dorsoventral view can be obtained in most rabbits without sedation or anesthesia, so is an option for compromised patients.
  • Sedation, eg midazolam   Midazolam  , given at 0.25-1 mg/kg IV or IM, and/or anesthesia is often required in order to obtain adequate views (see Warning above).

Normal anatomy

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Heart

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Vessels

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Mediastinum

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Chest wall

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers
  • Recent references fromPubMed.
  • Onuma M, Ono S, Ishida t, Shibuya H & Sato T (2010)Radiographic measurement of cardiac size in 27 rabbits. J Vet Med Sci72(4), 529-531PubMed.
  • Redrobe S (2001)Imaging techniques in small mammals. Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine10, 187-197.
  • Clippinger T l, Bennett R A, Alleman A R et al(1998)Removal of a thymoma via median sternotomy in a rabbit with recurrent appendicular neurofibroma. JAVMA213, 1140-1143PubMed.
  • DeSanto J (1997)Hypertrophic osteopathy associated with an intrathoracic neoplasm in a rabbit. JAVMA210, 1322-1323PubMed.
  • Morano G et al(1997)Effects of isoflurane versus halothane on myocardial contractility in rabbits-assessment with transthoracic two-dimensional echocardiography. Lab Anim31, 144-150PubMed.
  • Buchanan J W & Bucheler J (1995)Vertebral heart scale system to measure canine heart size in radiography. JAVMA206, 194-199PubMed.
  • Vernau K M, Grahn B H, Clarke-Scott et al(1995)Thymoma in geriatric rabbit with hypercalcaemia and periodic exophthalmos. JAVMA206, 820-822PubMed.
  • Kostolich M, Panciera R J (1992)Thymoma in a domestic rabbit. Cornell Vet82, 125-129PubMed.
  • Toth L A et al(1990)Lymphocytic leukemia and lymphosarcoma in a rabbit. JAVMA197, 627-628PubMed.
  • Shell LG & Saunders G (1989)Arteriosclerosis in a rabbit. JAVMA194, 679-680PubMed.
  • Martin M W S, Darke P G G & Else R W (1987)Congestive failure with atrial fibrillation in a rabbit. Vet Rec121, 570-571.
  • Hoover J P et al(1986)Osteogenic sarcoma with subcutaneous involvement in a rabbit. JAVMA189, 1156-1158.
  • Gibbs C & Hinton M H (1981)Radiological examination of the rabbit 1. The head, thorax and vertebral column. JSAP22, 687-703.
  • Gupta B N (1976)Lymphosarcoma in a rabbit. Am J Vet Res37, 841-843.
  • Amand W B, Riser W H & Biery D N (1973)Spontaneous osteosarcoma with widespread metastases in a belted dutch rabbit. JAAHA9, 577-581.

Other sources of information

  • Orcutt C (2006)Cardiovascular Disorders.In: BSAVA Manual of Rabbits Medicine & Surgery.2nd edn. Eds: Meredith A & Flecknell P. Gloucester, UK.
  • Silverman S (2001)Radiology of the Rabbit Thorax.Presented at: House Rabbit Society Veterinary Conference.
  • Stefanacci J D & Hoefer H L (1997)Cardiovascular Disease.In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents. Clinical Medicine and Surgery. Eds:Hillyer E V & Queensberry K E. Philadelphia, Saunders. pp 63-70.
  • Stefanacci J D & Hoefer H L (1997)Small Mammal Radiology.In: Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents. Clinical Medicine and Surgery.Eds: Hillyer E V & Queensberry K E. Philadelphia, Saunders. pp 358-377.


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