Prevalence and Distribution of Lung Radiographic Abnormalities in Cold-Stunned Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys kempii): 102 Cases
A retrospective radiographic survey was performed on 102 cases of cold-stunned juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtles from Cape Cod, MA (2001–2005). Dorsoventral and craniocaudal horizontal beam radiographs were evaluated for lung abnormalities. Results showed a significantly higher prevalence for right sided lung radiographic abnormalities. A total of 26% of sea turtles had radiographic changes which were either predominantly on the right side or mostly on the right lung field, versus 4% of the turtles who had radiographic abnormalities that were either left sided only or predominantly on the left side. The greater prevalence of right-side lung lesions has not been previously described in sea turtles, and the reasons for this finding are unclear. The etiology of pneumonia in cold-stunned sea turtles has been discussed and debated over the last several decades by wildlife rehabilitators. It is possible that the relatively ventral position of the right bronchus, compared to the left bronchus, makes aspiration of sea water into the right lung more likely. This may have clinical relevance, such as directing bronchoscopic sampling at the right lung for diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia in this endangered species.