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Prevalence, distribution, and progression of radiographic abnormalities in the lungs of cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii): 89 cases (2002–2005)

Jonathan Stockman DVM1, Charles J. Innis VMD, DABVP2, Mauricio Solano MV, DACVR3, Jennifer O'Sullivan Brisson DVM, DACVR4, Philip H. Kass DVM, PhD, DACVPM5, Michael F. Tlusty PhD6, and E. Scott Weber III VMD, MSC7,8
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  • 1 Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 2 Animal Health Department, New England Aquarium, 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.
  • | 4 Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.
  • | 5 Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 6 Animal Health Department, New England Aquarium, 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110.
  • | 7 Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.
  • | 8 Animal Health Department, New England Aquarium, 1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the prevalence, distribution, and progression of radiographic abnormalities in the lungs of cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) and associations between these abnormalities and body weight, carapace length, and hematologic and plasma biochemical variables.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—89 cold-stunned juvenile Kemp's ridley sea turtles.

Procedures—Medical records were reviewed. Dorsoventral and horizontal beam craniocaudal radiographs were evaluated for the presence, distribution, and progression of lung abnormalities. Turtles were categorized as having radiographically normal or abnormal lungs; those with abnormalities detected were further categorized according to the distribution of abnormalities (left lung, right lung, or both affected). Body weight, carapace length, and hematologic and plasma biochemical data were compared among categories.

Results—48 of 89 (54%) turtles had radiographic abnormalities of the lungs. Unilateral abnormalities of the right or left lung were detected in 14 (16%) and 2 (2%), respectively; both lungs were affected in 32 (36%). Prevalence of unilateral abnormalities was significantly greater for the right lung than for the left lung. Evaluation of follow-up radiographs indicated clinical improvement over time for most (18/31 [58%]) turtles. Prevalence of bilateral radiographic abnormalities was positively correlated with body weight and carapace length. There was no significant association between radiographic category and hematologic or plasma biochemical variables.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Radiographic abnormalities of the lungs were commonly detected in cold-stunned Kemp's ridley turtles. Results of this study may aid clinicians in developing effective diagnostic and treatment plans for these patients.

Contributor Notes

Dr. O'Sullivan Brisson's present address is In-Town Veterinary Group, Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital, 20 Cabot Rd, Woburn, MA 01801.

Address correspondence to Dr. Stockman (jstockman@ucdavis.edu).