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Development of a technique for contrast radiographic examination of the gastrointestinal tract in ball pythons (Python regius)

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  • 1 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Radiology Unit, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Padua, Agripolis 35020 Legnaro, Padua, Italy.
  • | 2 Department of Public Health, Comparative Pathology and Veterinary Hygiene, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Padua, Agripolis 35020 Legnaro, Padua, Italy.
  • | 3 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Radiology Unit, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Padua, Agripolis 35020 Legnaro, Padua, Italy.
  • | 4 Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Radiology Unit, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Padua, Agripolis 35020 Legnaro, Padua, Italy.

Abstract

Objective—To develop a technique for radiographic evaluation of the gastrointestinal tract in ball pythons (Python regius).

Samples—10 ball python cadavers (5 males and 5 females) and 18 healthy adult ball pythons (10 males and 8 females).

Procedures—Live snakes were allocated to 3 groups (A, B, and C). A dose (25 mL/kg) of barium sulfate suspension at 3 concentrations (25%, 35%, and 45% [wt/vol]) was administered through an esophageal probe to snakes in groups A, B, and C, respectively. Each evaluation ended when all the contrast medium had reached the large intestine. Transit times through the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine were recorded. Imaging quality was evaluated by 3 investigators who assigned a grading score on the basis of predetermined criteria. Statistical analysis was conducted to evaluate differences in quality among the study groups.

Results—The esophagus and stomach had a consistent distribution pattern of contrast medium, whereas 3 distribution patterns of contrast medium were identified in the small intestine, regardless of barium concentration. Significant differences in imaging quality were detected among the 3 groups.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Radiographic procedures were tolerated well by all snakes. The 35% concentration of contrast medium yielded the best imaging quality. Use of contrast medium for evaluation of the cranial portion of the gastrointestinal tract could be a reliable technique for the diagnosis of gastrointestinal diseases in ball pythons. However, results of this study may not translate to other snake species because of variables identified in this group of snakes.

Contributor Notes

Drs. Banzato's, Finotti's, and Zotti's present address is Department of Animal Medicine, Production and Health, Clinical Section, Radiology Unit, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Padua, Agripolis 35020 Legnaro, Padua, Italy.

Address correspondence to Dr. Zotti (alessandro.zotti@unipd.it).