The Clinical Importance of Follow-up Computed Tomography Scans in Thoracic Disease of Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)
IAAAM 2016
Natalie E. Noll1,4*; Daniel Vanderhart2; Marina Ivančić3; Michael Renner4
1Dolphins Plus Inc., Key Largo, FL, USA; 2AquaVetRad, San Diego, CA, USA; 3VET-RAD, LTD, Cleveland, OH, USA; 4Island Dolphin Care, Key Largo, USVI, USA


Computed tomography (CT) scans have been utilized as a key diagnostic tool in assisting in the identification, cause, and treatment of thoracic and pulmonary disease in cetaceans for many years. Computed tomography (CT) is a cross-sectional diagnostic imaging modality that allows detailed examination of the entire thorax without the superimposition of radiography.1,2 Thoracic disease is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in bottlenose dolphins that are in wild populations, stranded, or under managed care.1 In human medicine, the primary rationale for recommending serial follow-up CT studies for thoracic, pulmonary, and respiratory disease is that a percentage of cases will turn out to be cancers and that early intervention will provide an opportunity for cure.3,4 Dolphins Plus, Inc., has performed fifteen CT scans in bottlenose dolphins with thoracic disease, and over half of these have been follow-up scans in order to assess clinical status, treatment efficacy, and status of disease. Several cases had progression of diseases after treatment, despite apparent clinical improvement. Serial CT scans can be an excellent indicator of whether to cease, continue, or change treatment for disease.


The authors wish to thank Mariners Hospital Baptist Health South Florida's Imaging Department for their dedication in assisting in improving the health of dolphins at Dolphins Plus, the entire staff at Dolphins Plus Inc. for their diligence and training for these CT scans, and our veterinary department which includes Joy Middleton, Dr. Robert Stevens, and Dr. Joanna Meija-Fava.

* Presenting author

Literature Cited

1.  Ivančić M, Solano M, Smith CR. Computed tomography and cross-sectional anatomy of the thorax of the live bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). The Anatomical Record. 2014;297(5):901–915.

2.  Alonso-Farre JM, Gonzalo-Orden M, Barreiro-Vázquez JD, Ajenjo JM, Barreiro-Lois A, Llarena-Reino M, Degollada E. Cross-sectional anatomy, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging of the thoracic region of common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba). Anatomia, Histologia, Embryologia. 2014;43(3):221–229.

3.  Nguyen B. Features of non-malignant thoracic lesions on F-18 FDG PET/CT scan. International Journal of Diagnostic Imaging. 2015;2(1):32–44.

4.  Srikantharajah D, Ghuman A, Nagendran M, Maruthappu M. Is computed tomography follow-up of patients after lobectomy for non-small cell lung cancer of benefit in terms of survival? Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. 2012;15(5):893–898.


Speaker Information
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Natalie E. Noll, DVM
Dolphins Plus Inc.
Key Largo, FL, USA

Island Dolphin Care
Key Largo, USVI, USA

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