Objective—To establish a safe and effective technique for the endoscopic examination and biopsy of snake lungs by use of a 2.7-mm rigid endoscope system.
Animals—17 adult ball pythons (Python regius).
Procedures—The right lung of each anesthetized snake was transcutaneously penetrated at a predetermined site. Endoscopic lung examination was objectively scored, and 3 lung biopsies were performed. Tissue samples were evaluated histologically for diagnostic quality. One year later, 11 of the 17 snakes again underwent pulmonoscopy and biopsy; specimens were placed in various fixatives to compare preservation quality. All 17 snakes were euthanatized and necropsied.
Results—No major anesthetic, surgical, or biopsy-associated complications were detected in any snake. In 16 of 17 pythons, ease of right lung entry was satisfactory to excellent, and views of the distal portion of the trachea; primary bronchus; intrapulmonary bronchus; cranial lung lobe; and faveolar, semisaccular, and saccular lung regions were considered excellent. In 1 snake, mild hemorrhage caused minor procedural difficulties. After 1 year, pulmonoscopy revealed healing of the previous transcutaneous lung entry and biopsy sites. Important procedure-induced abnormalities were not detected at necropsy. Diagnostic quality of specimens that were shaken from biopsy forceps into physiologic saline (0.9% NaCl) solution before fixation in 2% glutaraldehyde or neutral-buffered 10% formalin was considered good to excellent.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—By use of a 2.7-mm rigid endoscope, lung examination and biopsy can be performed safely, swiftly, and with ease in ball pythons. Biopsy specimens obtained during this procedure are suitable for histologic examination.