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Clinical characteristics and short-term outcomes for rabbits with signs of gastrointestinal tract dysfunction: 117 cases (2014–2016)

Kimberly M. Oparil1Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.

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Jay N. Gladden1Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.

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Jonathan M. Babyak1Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.

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Christopher Lambert1Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.

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Jennifer E. Graham1Department of Clinical Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 01536.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To describe the clinical findings and short-term outcomes for rabbits with signs of gastrointestinal tract dysfunction or rabbit gastrointestinal syndrome (RGIS).

ANIMALS

117 client-owned rabbits.

PROCEDURES

The electronic medical records database of a veterinary teaching hospital was searched to identify rabbits that were examined because of altered or absent food intake and decreased or absent fecal output between June 1, 2014, and June 30, 2016. For each rabbit, information extracted from the record included history of prior episodes of gastrointestinal tract dysfunction, signalment, physical examination and diagnostic test results, and outcome.

RESULTS

117 of the 484 (24%) rabbits examined at the hospital during the study period met the inclusion criteria and were enrolled in the study. Fifty-nine and 58 rabbits were managed on an inpatient and outpatient basis, respectively. Gastrointestinal stasis without overt obstruction was diagnosed for 43 rabbits on the basis of abdominal radiographic, ultrasonographic, or necropsy results. Many rabbits had concurrent disease and biochemical abnormalities. Fifteen, 18, and 84 rabbits died, were euthanized, and survived to hospital discharge, respectively. Rabbits that were hypothermic (rectal temperature, ≤ 36.6°C [97.9°F]) during the initial examination were 5 times as likely to die or be euthanized as were euthermic rabbits, after controlling for potential confounders.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results indicated that the prognosis was generally good for rabbits with signs of RGIS unless they were hypothermic during initial examination. Prospective studies are warranted to further elucidate and characterize RGIS and assess the efficacy of various treatments and outcomes for affected rabbits.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To describe the clinical findings and short-term outcomes for rabbits with signs of gastrointestinal tract dysfunction or rabbit gastrointestinal syndrome (RGIS).

ANIMALS

117 client-owned rabbits.

PROCEDURES

The electronic medical records database of a veterinary teaching hospital was searched to identify rabbits that were examined because of altered or absent food intake and decreased or absent fecal output between June 1, 2014, and June 30, 2016. For each rabbit, information extracted from the record included history of prior episodes of gastrointestinal tract dysfunction, signalment, physical examination and diagnostic test results, and outcome.

RESULTS

117 of the 484 (24%) rabbits examined at the hospital during the study period met the inclusion criteria and were enrolled in the study. Fifty-nine and 58 rabbits were managed on an inpatient and outpatient basis, respectively. Gastrointestinal stasis without overt obstruction was diagnosed for 43 rabbits on the basis of abdominal radiographic, ultrasonographic, or necropsy results. Many rabbits had concurrent disease and biochemical abnormalities. Fifteen, 18, and 84 rabbits died, were euthanized, and survived to hospital discharge, respectively. Rabbits that were hypothermic (rectal temperature, ≤ 36.6°C [97.9°F]) during the initial examination were 5 times as likely to die or be euthanized as were euthermic rabbits, after controlling for potential confounders.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results indicated that the prognosis was generally good for rabbits with signs of RGIS unless they were hypothermic during initial examination. Prospective studies are warranted to further elucidate and characterize RGIS and assess the efficacy of various treatments and outcomes for affected rabbits.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Gladden (jay.gladden@tufts.edu).