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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 136:183-192 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03404

Postcranial axial skeletal pathology in Commerson’s dolphins Cephalorhynchus c. commersonii from Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Analía A. San Martín1,2,*, Natalia A. Dellabianca1,2, Eduardo J. Gimeno3, Marie-Françoise Van Bressem4

1Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC), Bernardo Houssay 200, Ushuaia, 9410, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
2Museo Acatushún de Aves y Mamíferos Marinos Australes (AMMA), Sarmiento 44, Ushuaia, 9410, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
3Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, 60 y 118, 1900 La Plata, Argentina
4Cetacean Conservation Medicine Group (CMED), Peruvian Centre for Cetacean Research (CEPEC), Museo de Delfines, Lima 20, Peru
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Commerson’s dolphins Cephalorhynchus c. commersonii are the small cetacean most frequently found stranded along the coast of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, but little is known about their pathologies. We examined the postcranial axial skeleton of 425 Commerson’s dolphins collected in the period 1974-2011 for the presence of pathologies. Miscellaneous lesions were detected in 107 (25.2%) of the specimens. Among them, idiopathic hyperostosis was the most frequent pathology (73.8%), followed by spondyloarthropathy (40.2%). Traumata (25.2%), spondylitis (10.3%) and osteoarthritis (11.2%) occurred less frequently. The type of lesion was statistically associated with the region of the vertebral column. Idiopathic hyperostosis occurred significantly more frequently in the lumbar vertebrae than in other parts of the vertebral column, while spondyloarthropathy was more frequent in the thoracic and caudal vertebrae. Both conditions were predominantly seen in mature dolphins. Osteoarthritis affected the transverse processes of the thoracic vertebrae of 6 males, 3 females and 3 individuals of undetermined sex, all mature. Healed and unhealed fractures were observed in the ribs of 27 specimens and in the transverse processes of 3 others. Spondylitis of various degrees of severity affected the cervical, thoracic, lumbar and caudal regions of 11 individuals. Together these data indicate that bone lesions and traumata commonly occur in Commerson’s dolphins, likely causing pain and morbidity in severe cases.


KEY WORDS: Skeletal pathology · Idiopathic hyperostosis · Spondylitis · Osteoarthritis · Degenerative lesions · Traumata · Osteolysis · Commerson’s dolphins · Cetacean


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Cite this article as: San Martín AA, Dellabianca NA, Gimeno EJ, Van Bressem MF (2019) Postcranial axial skeletal pathology in Commerson’s dolphins Cephalorhynchus c. commersonii from Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Dis Aquat Org 136:183-192. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03404

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