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Qualitative and quantitative interpretation of computed tomography of the lungs in healthy neonatal foals

Kara M. LascolaDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61802.

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Robert T. O'BrienDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61802.

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Pamela A. WilkinsDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61802.

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Stuart C. Clark-Price DVMDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61802.

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Susan K. HartmanDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61802.

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Mark A. MitchellDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61802.

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Abstract

Objective—To qualitatively describe lung CT images obtained from sedated healthy equine neonates (≤ 14 days of age), use quantitative analysis of CT images to characterize attenuation and distribution of gas and tissue volumes within the lungs, and identify differences between lung characteristics of foals ≤ 7 days of age and foals > 7 days of age.

Animals—10 Standardbred foals between 2.5 and 13 days of age.

Procedures—Foals were sedated with butorphanol, midazolam, and propofol and positioned in sternal recumbency for thoracic CT. Image analysis software was used to exclude lung from nonlung structures. Lung attenuation was measured in Hounsfield units (HU) for analysis of whole lung and regional changes in attenuation and lung gas and tissue components. Degree of lung attenuation was classified as follows: hyperinflated or emphysema, −1,000 to −901 HU; well aerated, −900 to −501 HU; poorly aerated, −500 to −101 HU; and nonaerated, > −100 HU.

Results—Qualitative evidence of an increase in lung attenuation and patchy alveolar patterns in the ventral lung region were more pronounced in foals ≤ 7 days of age than in older foals. Quantitative analysis revealed that mean ± SD lung attenuation was greater in foals ≤ 7 days of age (−442 ± 28 HU) than in foals > 7 days of age (−521 ± 24 HU). Lung aeration and gas volumes were lower than in other regions ventrally and in the mid lung region caudal to the heart.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Identified radiographic patterns and changes in attenuation were most consistent with atelectasis and appeared more severe in foals ≤ 7 days of age than in older neonatal foals. Recognition of these changes may have implications for accurate CT interpretation in sedated neonatal foals with pulmonary disease.

Abstract

Objective—To qualitatively describe lung CT images obtained from sedated healthy equine neonates (≤ 14 days of age), use quantitative analysis of CT images to characterize attenuation and distribution of gas and tissue volumes within the lungs, and identify differences between lung characteristics of foals ≤ 7 days of age and foals > 7 days of age.

Animals—10 Standardbred foals between 2.5 and 13 days of age.

Procedures—Foals were sedated with butorphanol, midazolam, and propofol and positioned in sternal recumbency for thoracic CT. Image analysis software was used to exclude lung from nonlung structures. Lung attenuation was measured in Hounsfield units (HU) for analysis of whole lung and regional changes in attenuation and lung gas and tissue components. Degree of lung attenuation was classified as follows: hyperinflated or emphysema, −1,000 to −901 HU; well aerated, −900 to −501 HU; poorly aerated, −500 to −101 HU; and nonaerated, > −100 HU.

Results—Qualitative evidence of an increase in lung attenuation and patchy alveolar patterns in the ventral lung region were more pronounced in foals ≤ 7 days of age than in older foals. Quantitative analysis revealed that mean ± SD lung attenuation was greater in foals ≤ 7 days of age (−442 ± 28 HU) than in foals > 7 days of age (−521 ± 24 HU). Lung aeration and gas volumes were lower than in other regions ventrally and in the mid lung region caudal to the heart.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Identified radiographic patterns and changes in attenuation were most consistent with atelectasis and appeared more severe in foals ≤ 7 days of age than in older neonatal foals. Recognition of these changes may have implications for accurate CT interpretation in sedated neonatal foals with pulmonary disease.

Contributor Notes

Presented in abstract form at the 29th Annual Veterinary Comparative Respiratory Society Symposium, Vienna, November 2011.

Supported by the Morris Animal Foundation.

Address correspondence to Dr. Lascola (klascola@illinois.edu).