Case Description—4 rabbits (1.5 to 6 years old) were evaluated at the Angell Animal Medical Center from June 2007 to March 2009 because of nonspecific clinical signs including anorexia, lethargy, and decreased fecal output.
Clinical Findings—Physical examination revealed signs of pain in the cranial portion of the abdomen, gas distention of the gastrointestinal tract, and diminished borborygmi. Serum biochemical analyses and CBCs revealed moderately to markedly high alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, and alkaline phosphatase activities and mild to moderate anemia with polychromasia. Abdominal radiographic findings were nonspecific. Three of the 4 rabbits underwent abdominal ultrasonography; abnormalities in shape, size, echogenicity, and blood flow of the liver, indicative of liver lobe torsion, were detected.
Treatment and Outcome—All 4 rabbits underwent surgery, during which liver lobe torsion was confirmed and the affected liver lobe was resected. Histologic examination of sections of the excised lobe obtained from 3 of the 4 rabbits revealed severe, diffuse, acute to sub-acute hepatic ischemic necrosis. All rabbits recovered from surgery; owners reported that the rabbits were doing well 22 to 43 months after surgery.
Clinical Relevance—Liver lobe torsions in any species are rarely reported, yet 4 cases of liver lobe torsion in domestic rabbits were treated at 1 referral center in a 2-year period. In rabbits, clinical signs of this condition are nonspecific and results of additional tests, including abdominal ultrasonography and serum biochemical analysis, are necessary for diagnosis. Prompt diagnosis and hepatectomy of the affected lobe are recommended and appear to be associated with an excellent prognosis.