Periorbital Adenocarcinoma in a Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2013
Brett G. Darrow1, DVM; Nancy S. Johnstone McLean1, DVM, DACVO; Shirley E. Russman1, DVM; Chris A. Schiller2, DVM, DACVP
1VCA Veterinary Care Animal Hospital and Referral Center, Albuquerque, NM, USA; 2Antech Diagnostics, Stillwater, OK, USA


A 4.5-year-old female bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps) presented for periorbital swelling affecting the left eye, two weeks in duration. The swelling was nonresponsive to ciprofloxacina ophthalmic and oral enrofloxacinb medications. The lizard had been normal at home but was recently inappetent and lethargic. Complete blood count performed one week prior to referral revealed a heterophilic leukocytosis, although absolute values of all white blood cells were within normal limits. Serum chemistry showed hypercalcemia and hyperphosphatemia.

On presentation, a 1 cm x 1 cm x 0.3 cm, soft, tan-yellow gelatinous mass was evident at the medial canthus. The mass appeared well organized and hypoechoic on ocular ultrasound. Cytologic examination of a fine needle aspirate was suggestive of an inflammatory process; heterophilia and monocytosis with occasional spindle cells (presumed fibroblasts) were noted. Aerobic and anaerobic cultures were negative. The mass continued to grow despite adding ceftazidimec to the treatment regimen. An exenteration was performed. Histopathologically, the mass was composed of solid clusters or sheets of moderately pleomorphic, irregular polygonal shaped cells with a mitotic rate of 1–2/hpf. Interspersed areas of necrosis, hemorrhage, and necroheterophilic inflammation were noted. Immunohistochemical staining was also suggestive of a lacrimal gland adenocarcinoma, although a Harderian gland origin could not definitively be ruled out.

The owners reported that swelling at the surgical site recurred quickly and the dragon died 2 months postoperatively. Periorbital adenocarcinoma arising from tear-producing tissues may be underreported in bearded dragons and can occur in iguanas and chameleons (Garner MM, personal communication, January 2013).


aCiprofloxacin ophthalmic solution (0.3%), Pack Pharmaceuticals, Buffalo Grove, IL, USA.
bEnrofloxacin solution (50 mg/ml), Triad Compounding Pharmacy, Cerritos, CA, USA.
cFortaz, GlaxoSmithKline, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA.


Speaker Information
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Brett G. Darrow, DVM
VCA Veterinary Care Animal Hospital and Referral Center
Albuquerque, NM, USA

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