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Diagnosis of abdominal diseases

in birds by combined radiography
and ultrasonography
M. Gumpenberger (1), A. Scope (2).

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This paper describes the diagnostic possibilities of the combined radiographic and ultrasonographic
examination of abdominal diseases in birds. Although radiographs give a good overview of the skeletal
system, they do not alwaysrender information on the origin or the inner structure of soft-tissue opacities,
even after additional contrast studies of the gastrointestinal tract have been performed. Ultrasonography
can be used to image the parenchymal texture of organs and to detect free abdominal fluids.
The combination of both imaging techniques is therefore very helpful both as a diagnostic as well
as a prognostic tool inavian medicine. Using examples, the advantages and disadvantages of both
investigation techniques, as well as their useful combination, are demonstrated. In two cases, computed
tomography studies were also performed.
Key words: Radiography, ultrasonography, computed tomography, bird, neoplasia, hernia, egg binding.
Abbreviation: CT = computed tomography.

INTRODUCTION

in radiographstaken of birds than they do in
mammals. For better visualisation and
definition of soft tissue opacities in
the body cavity, contrast studies of the
gastrointestinal tract can be performed (oral
administration of 25% barium sulphate;
20 ml/kg body mass). Depending on the
location, shape and degree of filling of the
bowel loops, and also their position, deductions can be
made as to changes inthe digestive tract itself, but also on
the size and location of organs as well as the possible
presence or absence of neoplasms or hernias (Grimm,
1991; Krautwald e t al. , 1992; Rübel, 1991). Details on
radiographic anatomy and passage times of contrast media in
the different avian species may be obtained from the
literature (Krautwald et al., 1992; Rübel, 1992; Smith and
Smith, 1992).However, while radiography is extremely well
suited for imaging calcified structures, using this technique it
is not possible to differentiate between tissue parenchyma
and fluids.

This paper originally
appeared in:
Wiener Tierärztliche
Monatsschrift*
2001, 88, p. 129-138

Given that the clinical signs of avian
diseases are mostly non-specific, diagnosis
is rarely possible on the basisof a physical
examination alone (Woerpel and Rosskopf,
1984). In most cases, additional diagnostic
procedures are required. As changes in
the size or structure of internal organs are a typical feature
of many avian diseases, imaging techniques can be used
to obtain valuable diagnostic and prognostic information.
The small size of many birds enables full imaging of the
whole body on asingle radiograph. The required exposure
doses are small and the scattered radiation only minimal,
consequently the radiation dose is very small (Krautwald et
al., 1992). As birds lack a diaphragm, their body cavity is not
separated into a thoracic and an abdominal cavity. Instead,
the body space is divided by the air sacs. Thanks to these air
sacs, most abdominal organs appear more clearlydelineated

(1) Radiology Clinic
(2) Clinic for Poultry & Pet Birds, University of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinärplatz, A-1210, Wien.
* Presented by VÖK (Austria).

153

Diagnosis of abdominal diseases in birds by combined radiography and ultrasonography

Ultrasonography is a non-invasive, very efficient and at the
same time a comparatively economic imaging technique,
which is routinelyused in the diagnostic workup of amongst
others feline and canine diseases, among others. Using
ultrasonography, an assessment is made of the organs – their
outline, size and parenchymal structure, and also of fluid
accumulations in the body. It has only been during the past
few years, however, that this technique was successfully
introduced into avian medicine (Boskovic et al., 1999;...
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