DAO 101:243-255 (2012)  -  doi:10.3354/dao02537

Pulmonary ultrasound findings in a bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus population

Cynthia R. Smith1,*, Mauricio Solano2, Betsy A. Lutmerding1, Shawn P. Johnson1, Jennifer M. Meegan1, Carolina R. Le-Bert1, Forrest Emory-Gomez1, Stephen Cassle3,4, Kevin Carlin1, Eric D. Jensen

1National Marine Mammal Foundation, San Diego, California 92106, USA
2Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, Massachusetts 01536, USA
3US Navy Marine Mammal Program, SSC PACIFIC Code 71510, San Diego, California 92152, USA
4Present address: College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32603, USA

ABSTRACT: Lung disease is common among wild and managed populations of bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus. The purpose of the study was to apply standardized techniques to the ultrasound evaluation of dolphin lungs, and to identify normal and abnormal sonographic findings associated with pleuropulmonary diseases. During a 5 yr period (2005 to 2010), 498 non-cardiac thoracic ultrasound exams were performed on bottlenose dolphins at the Navy Marine Mammal Program in San Diego, California, USA. Exams were conducted as part of routine physical exams, diagnostic workups, and disease monitoring. In the majority of routine exams, no abnormal pleural or pulmonary findings were detected with ultrasound. Abnormal findings were typically detected during non-routine exams to identify and track disease progression or resolution; therefore, abnormal results are overrepresented in the study. In order of decreasing prevalence, abnormal sonographic findings included evidence of alveolar-interstitial syndrome, pleural effusion, pulmonary masses, and pulmonary consolidation. Of these findings, alveolar-interstitial syndrome was generally nonspecific as it represented several possible disease states. Pairing ultrasound findings with clinical signs was critical to determine relevance. Pleural effusion, pulmonary masses, and pulmonary consolidation were relatively straightforward to diagnose and interpret. Further diagnostics were performed to obtain definitive diagnoses when appropriate, specifically ultrasound-guided thoracocentesis, fine needle aspirates, and lung biopsies, as well as radiographs and computed tomography (CT) exams. Occasionally, post mortem gross necropsy and histopathology data were available to provide confirmation of diagnoses. Thoracic ultrasound was determined to be a valuable diagnostic tool for detecting pleural and pulmonary diseases in dolphins.


KEY WORDS: Cetacean · Diagnostic imaging · Lung disease · Pulmonary


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Cite this article as: Smith CR, Solano M, Lutmerding BA, Johnson SP and others (2012) Pulmonary ultrasound findings in a bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus population. Dis Aquat Org 101:243-255

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