Anatomic Study of the Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) Manus Using Digital Imagery of Computed Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imagery as Compared to Epoxy-Sheet Plastination Preservation Technique
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2019
Paul B. Nader, DVM; Robert W. Henry, DVM, PhD
College of Veterinary Medicine, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN, USA


The Asian elephant, Elephas maximus, has served as a companion species, beast of burden, zoological icon, and charismatic species for centuries by humans. It is incumbent for all human caretakers of this iconic mega-vertebrate to maximize their knowledge of this species and incorporate that knowledge into the daily care and benefit of this species. This gross anatomic study of the soft tissue and osteologic tissues of the Asian elephant manus strives to increase and expand the scientific knowledge of the inter-relationships of the key soft tissues, including skeletal muscle, tendons, ligaments, joint capsules, and major blood vessels with their osteologic components.1,2 Using the advanced digital imagery of both computed tomography and magnetic resonance imagery and advanced three-dimensional, computer modelling, the specialized architecture of the elephant manus can more easily be illustrated and comprehended. In addition, with better imagery, the veterinary clinician can better detect and diagnose pathologies within either the soft tissues or osteologic tissues within the elephant manus. Once all digital imagery was completed, the actual cross-sectional specimens of the elephant’s study specimen, both manus and distal antebrachium, were preserved for decades into the future via epoxy-sheet plastination technique. This anatomic study displays the valuable visual benefits of advanced digital imagery and its validity was confirmed when compared to the plastinated, cross-sectional specimens of the Asian elephant manus.


The authors thank Ramiro Isaza, DVM, Dipl ACZM, at the Zoological Medicine Division of the University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine for his gracious loan of elephant tissues and invaluable advice regarding this anatomic study.

Literature Cited

1.  Csuti B, Sargent EL, Bechert US. The Elephant’s Foot: Prevention and Care of Foot Conditions in Captive Asian and African Elephants. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press; 2001:163.

2.  Weissengruber GE, Egger GF, Hutchinson JR, Groenewald HB, Elsässer L, Famini D, Forstenpointner G. The structure of the cushions in the feet of African elephants (Loxodonta africana). J Anat. 2006;209(6):781–792.


Speaker Information
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Paul B. Nader, DVM
College of Veterinary Medicine
Lincoln Memorial University
Harrogate, TN, USA

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