Abdominal imaging is routinely performed in small cetaceans. Historically, this has been largely limited to radiography and ultrasonography, however, conscious computed tomography (CT) is increasingly being used as a diagnostic tool in animals such as dolphins. The limitations of radiography (superimposition) and ultrasonography (obscuring of tissues by gas) are circumvented with CT. Despite the logistical challenges inherent in performing a CT study on a live aquatic animal, computed tomography has begun to serve as a screening tool in preventative marine mammal medicine. In this role, it has particular utility in longitudinal assessments. CT is also becoming a valuable diagnostic tool in the evaluation of compromised marine mammal patients in human care. At this time, there remains little to no information available in the scientific literature to guide veterinary clinicians and radiologists in the interpretation of these examinations, particularly of the abdomen. The aim of this work is to describe the normal computed tomographic appearance of the abdominal anatomy of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), based on retrospective analysis of 10 years of CT data of live, non-anesthetized animals.
The author thanks the clinical veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and animal care specialists of the Brookfield Zoo for their logistical support during image acquisition and unwavering dedication to the well-being of the animals in their care.
* Presenting author