ISSN 2398-2985      

Abdominal radiography

4ferrets

Introduction

  • Many exotic animals present to the veterinary clinician for non-specific clinical signs of ill-health, including lethargy, depressed demeanor and anorexia. Abdominal radiography may form part of the initial diagnostic investigation in these cases.
  • Certain presenting conditions such as abdominal pain, abdominal distension and/or masses, vomiting/regurgitation, dysuria, dystocia may suggest abnormalities of the abdominal organs (including but not exclusive of the gastrointestinal, urinary, or reproductive tract), and thus abdominal radiography would be of value in these cases.
  • When clinical history and physical exam may indicate that there are high probabilities that the problem is found in the abdomen, eg when the clinical history indicates pregnancy or foreign body ingestion.
Print off the Owner factsheet on X-ray and ultrasound to give to your clients.

Uses

  • Imaging of the abdomen forms part of the veterinarian's initial diagnostic investigation when disease process(es) pertaining to abdominal viscera are suspected:
    • Gastrointestinal tract including the liver: ferrets under 2 years of age are predisposed to foreign body ingestion Gastrointestinal foreign bodies and may present with clinical signs associated with this (anorexia Anorexia, vomiting Vomiting).
    • Spleen: splenomegaly is commonly encountered in ferrets.
    • Urinary tract.
    • Reproductive tract:
      • Prostatomegaly may be seen in desexed male ferrets with adrenal disease.
      • Identification of gravidity or dystocia Dystocia:
        • Use of radiography in early mammalian pregnancy can be contraindicated due to effects of radiation on the developing fetus.
        • Confirmation of a gravid uterus in mammals using abdominal radiography may not be possible until mid- to late gestation.
    • Abdominal masses.
  • Radiography is usually a readily accessible and inexpensive imaging modality for most veterinarians and clients, therefore is often the primary imaging modality.

Advantages

  • Non-invasive.
  • Relatively straightforward and affordable procedure, using equipment available to the majority of veterinarians.
  • Readily performed and interpreted compared to ultrasonography or other advanced imaging techniques.
  • Often forms part of the initial database when an animal presents with non-specific signs of disease.

Disadvantages

  • Sedation/anesthesia is generally required unless the animal is in poor clinical status and is minimally responsive and/or obtunded.
  • Abdominal radiography is rarely diagnostic for diseases associated with the abdominal endocrine organs such as the adrenal glands or the pancreas.
  • Relatively insensitive for the confirmation of gravidity early in the mammalian gestation period.
  • Radiography in early mammalian pregnancy can also be contraindicated due to effects of radiation on the developing fetus.
  • Adjunctive diagnostic imaging modalities such as ultrasonography, may be required to fully assess the morphology in the organ of interest, eg hepatomegaly, splenomegaly, cystitis, prostatomegaly, confirmation of gravidity early in the gestation period.

Requirements

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Preparation

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Procedure

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Aftercare

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Outcomes

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Prognosis

  • Varies depending on the underlying etiology.

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Suran J N, Latney L V & Wyre N R (2017) Radiographic and ultrasonographic findings of the spleen and abdominal lymph nodes in healthy domestic ferrets. J Small Anim Pract 58 (8), 444-453 PubMed.
  • Ludewig E et al (2012) Clinical technique: digital radiography in exotic pets - important practical differences compared with traditional radiography. J Exotic Pet Med 21 (1), 71-79 ResearchGate.
  • Neuwirth L, Isaza R, Bellah J et al (1993) Adrenal neoplasia in 7 ferrets. Vet Radiol Ultrasound 34 (5), 340-346 WileyOnline.

Other sources of information

  • Silverman S & Tell L A (2005) Radiology of Rodents, Rabbits and Ferrets: An Atlas of Normal Anatomy and Positioning. Elsevier Saunders, USA. pp 298.

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