Objective—To evaluate respiratory mechanical function and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cytologic results in healthy alpacas.
Animals—16 client-owned adult alpacas.
Procedures—Measurements of pulmonary function were performed, including functional residual capacity (FRC) via helium dilution, respiratory system resistance via forced oscillatory technique (FOT), and assessment of breathing pattern by use of respiratory inductive plethysmography (RIP) in standing and sternally recumbent alpacas. Bronchoalveolar lavage was performed orotracheally during short-term anesthesia.
Results—Mean ± SD measurements of respiratory function were obtained in standing alpacas for FRC (3.19 ± 0.53 L), tidal volume (0.8 ± 0.13 L), and respiratory system resistance at 1 Hz (2.70 ± 0.88 cm H2O/L/s), 2 Hz (2.98 ± 0.70 cm H2O/L/s), 3 Hz (3.14 ± 0.77 cm H2O/L/s), 5 Hz (3.45 ± 0.91 cm H2O/L/s), and 7 Hz (3.84 ± 0.93 cm H2O/L/s). Mean phase angle, as a measurement of thoracoabdominal asynchrony, was 19.59 ± 10.06°, and mean difference between nasal and plethysmographic flow measurements was 0.18 ± 0.07 L/s. Tidal volume, peak inspiratory flow, and peak expiratory flow were significantly higher in sternally recumbent alpacas than in standing alpacas. Cytologic examination of BAL fluid revealed 58.52 ± 12.36% alveolar macrophages, 30.53 ± 13.78% lymphocytes, 10.95 ± 9.29% neutrophils, 0% mast cells, and several ciliated epithelial cells.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Pulmonary function testing was tolerated well in nonsedated untrained alpacas. Bronchoalveolar lavage in alpacas yielded samples with adequate cellularity that had a greater abundance of neutrophils than has been reported in horses.