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Ultrasonographic anatomy of bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps)

Daniel S. BucyWilliam R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.

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David Sanchez-Migallon GuzmanWilliam R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.

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Allison L. ZwingenbergerDepartment of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine which organs can be reliably visualized ultrasonographically in bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps), describe their normal ultrasonographic appearance, and describe an ultrasonographic technique for use with this species.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—14 healthy bearded dragons (6 females and 8 males).

Procedures—Bearded dragons were manually restrained in dorsal and sternal recumbency, and coelomic organs were evaluated by use of linear 7- to 15-MHz and microconvex 5- to 8-MHz transducers. Visibility, size, echogenicity, and ultrasound transducer position were assessed for each organ.

Results—Coelomic ultrasonography with both microconvex and linear ultrasound transducers allowed for visualization of the heart, pleural surface of the lungs, liver, caudal vena cava, aorta, ventral abdominal vein, gallbladder, fat bodies, gastric fundus, cecum, colon, cloaca, kidneys, and testes or ovaries in all animals. The pylorus was visualized in 12 of 14 animals. The small intestinal loops were visualized in 12 of 14 animals with the linear transducer, but could not be reliably identified with the microconvex transducer. The hemipenes were visualized in 7 of 8 males. The adrenal glands and spleen were not identified in any animal. Anechoic free coelomic fluid was present in 11 of 14 animals. Heart width, heart length, ventricular wall thickness, gastric fundus wall thickness, and height of the caudal poles of the kidneys were positively associated with body weight. Testis width was negatively associated with body weight in males.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated coelomic ultrasonography is a potentially valuable imaging modality for assessment of most organs in bearded dragons and can be performed in unsedated animals.

Abstract

Objective—To determine which organs can be reliably visualized ultrasonographically in bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps), describe their normal ultrasonographic appearance, and describe an ultrasonographic technique for use with this species.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—14 healthy bearded dragons (6 females and 8 males).

Procedures—Bearded dragons were manually restrained in dorsal and sternal recumbency, and coelomic organs were evaluated by use of linear 7- to 15-MHz and microconvex 5- to 8-MHz transducers. Visibility, size, echogenicity, and ultrasound transducer position were assessed for each organ.

Results—Coelomic ultrasonography with both microconvex and linear ultrasound transducers allowed for visualization of the heart, pleural surface of the lungs, liver, caudal vena cava, aorta, ventral abdominal vein, gallbladder, fat bodies, gastric fundus, cecum, colon, cloaca, kidneys, and testes or ovaries in all animals. The pylorus was visualized in 12 of 14 animals. The small intestinal loops were visualized in 12 of 14 animals with the linear transducer, but could not be reliably identified with the microconvex transducer. The hemipenes were visualized in 7 of 8 males. The adrenal glands and spleen were not identified in any animal. Anechoic free coelomic fluid was present in 11 of 14 animals. Heart width, heart length, ventricular wall thickness, gastric fundus wall thickness, and height of the caudal poles of the kidneys were positively associated with body weight. Testis width was negatively associated with body weight in males.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated coelomic ultrasonography is a potentially valuable imaging modality for assessment of most organs in bearded dragons and can be performed in unsedated animals.

Contributor Notes

Supported by the Center for Companion Animal Health, University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine as well as the University of California-Davis Reptile Research Fund.

The authors thank Dr. Kate Gustavsen for assistance with patient care and handling, John Doval for assistance with figures, and Dr. Denise Imai for assistance with anatomic identification.

Address correspondence to Dr. Zwingenberger (azwingen@ucdavis.edu).