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Radiographic interpretation of the thorax

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Abstract

The unique anatomical features and small thorax of the rabbit make interpretation of radiographic images of this species a challenge, even for experienced veterinary surgeons. This chapter covers indications for thoracic radiography; views, positioning and normal anatomy, and radiographic features of thoracic diseases that can be diagnosed using radiography.

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Figures

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5.1 Lateral view of the thorax of an adult female rabbit. An area of mineralization in the liver is an incidental finding on this radiograph; it is in the region of the gall bladder. Post-mortem examination of similar cases has shown dilation of the extrahepatic bile ducts, filled with mucinous material containing mineralized cellular debris. LA = left atrium; LV = left ventricle; RA = right atrium; RV = right ventricle. Diagram of the left lateral view of the thorax, showing the lung lobes. Drawn by S.J. Elmhurst BA Hons (www.livingart.org.uk) and reproduced with her permission. Diagram of the right lateral view of the thorax, showing the lung lobes. Drawn by S.J. Elmhurst BA Hons (www.livingart.org.uk) and reproduced with her permission. (a,b Courtesy of the University of Melbourne Veterinary Hospital)
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5.2 VD thoracic radiograph of the same rabbit as shown in Figure 5.1 . Note the relatively large heart in comparison to the thoracic cavity. (Courtesy of the University of Melbourne Veterinary Hospital)
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5.3 Pneumonia in a neutered adult male dwarf rabbit that presented with severe dyspnoea. The suprahamate process is visible in the cranial thorax (arrow). This is a bony projection jutting out at right angles to the acromion process of the scapula. An enlarged view of the caudal lung fields, which exhibit increased pulmonary densities typical of an alveolar pattern. Such patterns are characterized as increased pulmonary densities, which are patchy in appearance on this radiograph.
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5.4 Pulmonary metastases in an adult female dwarf rabbit. Diffuse pulmonary densities are present (some merging with adjacent densities) and obscure the heart silhouette. An ovariohysterectomy had been performed to remove a uterine adenocarcinoma several months previously, at which time there were no pulmonary changes evident on survey radiographs. Also note the prominent cartilaginous tracheal rings and the tip of the endotracheal tube at the bronchial bifurcation. The rabbit was given a hopeless prognosis and euthanased after this radiograph was taken.
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5.5 A cranial mediastinal mass in an adult male dwarf rabbit. Note the severe compression and elevation of the trachea, and the poor outline (effacement) of the heart silhouette caused by the thoracic mass.
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5.6 Vertebral heart score. A study by determined long axis (LA) values of 4.22 ± 0.25 cm and vertebral heart score (VHS) of 7.55 ± 0.38 cm for rabbits <1.6 kg, and LA values of 4.48 ± 0.3 cm and VHS of 7.99 ± 0.5.8 cm for disease-free rabbits ≥1.6 kg. Note: these measurements are for right lateral radiographs. SA = short axis. Drawn by S.J. Elmhurst BA Hons (www.livingart.org.uk) and reproduced with her permission.
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5.7 Lateral and DV views of the thorax of an 8-year-old mixed-breed rabbit with cardiomegaly, which presented with exercise intolerance and lethargy. The rabbit improved on furosemide and benazepril but died suddenly 3 weeks later. (Courtesy of Frances Harcourt-Brown)
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5.8 Lateral thoracic radiograph of a 4-year-old mini-lop rabbit, showing extensive mineralization of the aortic arch and other vessels in the cranial chest, including the subclavian arteries. There is also cardiomegaly, elevation of the trachea, and interstitial and alveolar patterns indicating pulmonary oedema. (Courtesy of Frances Harcourt-Brown)

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