Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Radiography: thorax

Contributor(s): Vetstream Ltd, Fraser McConnell, Jenna Richardson, Elisabetta Mancinelli

Introduction

  • The rabbit thorax can be difficult to interpret due to the relatively small lung field proportional to the size of the rabbit.
  • Radiography of the thorax can be problematical due to difficulties eliminating movement blur resulting from breathing.
  • High output (high mA capability) x-ray machines enable exposure times to be minimized, reducing the risk of movement blur.
  • A reasonably high kV, along with high mA capability, will facilitate the use of shorter exposure times and avoid excessive image contrast.
  • Close collimation of the primary beam should be practiced at all times.
  • The objective is to produce a radiograph which includes the whole area of interest, is correctly exposed and developed, and is free from movement blur and artifacts.
  • The film should be clearly marked with the anatomical marker, the patient's identification, the date and the name of the hospital or practice.

Print-off the Owner factsheet Xray and Ultrasound to give to your clients.

Indications

  • Tachypnea, dyspnea (open mouth breathing, abdominal effort).
  • Sneezing, wheezing.
  • Nasal discharge.
  • Muffled heart.
  • Arrhythmias, heart murmurs.
  • Suspicion of thoracic effusion. 
  • Abnormal respiratory sounds on auscultation. 
  • Gut sounds in thorax. 
  • Bilateral exophthalmos.
  • Trauma. 
  • Dysphagia.
  • Lethargy, exercise intolerance.
  • Coughing.

Uses

  • Lung pathology: bronchitis, lung abscess Lung: abscess lateral radiographpneumonia Lung: pneumonia DV radiographneoplasia, metastasis.
  • Assessment of cardiac size and shape.
  • Examination of esophagus.
  • Demonstration of pleural space pathology.
  • Demonstration of mediastinal pathology Thorax: cranial mediastinal mass DV radiographThorax: cranial mediastinal mass lateral radiograph.
  • Distal tracheal pathology, eg stricture Trachea: stricture.
  • Detection of fractured ribs Rib: fracture lateral radiograph, or other rib pathology.
  • Confirmation of diaphragmatic herniation may require barium study to aid in the confirmation of diagnosis.
  • Screening in rabbits diagnosed with neoplasia, eg uterine adenocarcinoma Uterine adenocarcinoma, mammary neoplasia Mammary gland: carcinoma.
  • As an aid for other procedures such as nasogastric tube placement.
  • Investigation of chronic weight loss.
It should be noted that in older guinea pigs, the mineralization of the costal cartilage may appear as prominent cloud-like shadow on radiographs that should not be confused with pathology affecting the lungs.

Advantages

  • Non-invasive, valuable diagnostic tool.
  • Certain views may be performed conscious in quiet or sick animals.
  • Can be performed under sedation Sedation/general anesthesia Anesthesia: overview when multiple, in depth, views are required.
  • Relatively quick and simple where general anesthesia is not required.

Disadvantages

Placing dyspneic animals in dorsal or lateral recumbency can compromise respiration in some cases.

Struggling with a non-compliant, eg under-sedated or stressed patient may be detrimental to its condition.

Requirements

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Preparation

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Procedure

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Aftercare

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Gibbs C & Hinton M H (1981) Radiological examination of the rabbit. The head, thorax and vertebral column. JSAP 22 (11), 687-703 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Carmel B (2013) Radiographic interpretation of the thorax. In: BSAVA Manual of Rabbit Surgery, Dentistry and Imaging. Eds: Harcourt-Brown F & Chitty J. BSAVA, UK. pp 69-75.
  • Queensberry K E & Carpenter J W (2012) Ferrets, Rabbits and Rodents, Clinical Medicine and Surgery. 3rd edn. Elsevier Saunders, USA.
  • Reese S & Hein J (2011) Radioanatomy. Thorax. In: Diagnostic Imaging of Exotic Pets. Eds: Krautwald-Junghanns M E, Pees M, Reese S & Tully T. Schlϋtersche, Germany, pp.168-175.
  • Capello V, Lennox A M & Widmer W R (2008) The Basics of Radiology. In: Clinical Radiology of Exotic Companion Mammals. Wiley-Blackwell, USA. pp 2-51.


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