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.
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.
To characterize osteolytic lesions in cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) hospitalized for rehabilitation and describe methods used for the management of such lesions.
25 stranded, cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles hospitalized between 2008 and 2018.
Medical records of sea turtles with a diagnosis of osteolytic lesions were reviewed retrospectively to obtain the date of diagnosis, clinical signs, radiographic findings, microbial culture results, hematologic and plasma biochemical data, cytologic and histologic findings, antimicrobial history, time to first negative culture result, treatment duration, and outcome.
Lesions were identified radiographically a median of 50 days after admission and were located within epiphyses or metaphyses of various appendicular joints. Lesions were associated with periarticular swelling (n = 24), lameness (16), lethargy (2), and hyporexia (2). Bacterial culture yielded growth of single organisms (n = 16), multiple organisms (2), or no growth (6). Significant differences in hematologic and biochemical data were detected between the times of diagnosis and convalescence. Cytologic and histologic findings characterized the lesions as osteomyelitis leading to septic arthritis. Sixteen sea turtles were managed medically, and 8 were managed medically and surgically. Surgery resulted in rapid improvement in joint mobility and overall clinical status. Most (22/25 [88%]) sea turtles survived and were released after long-term management.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
During rehabilitation, cold-stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtles may be affected by osteomyelitis. Medical management based on antimicrobial susceptibility testing was effective for most turtles. Long term management efforts in turtles are justified by high survival rate.