Synchronised imaging techniques to diagnose rhinoceroses

Jun 27, 2014
Synchronised computed tomography (CT) - digital radiography (DR), the principle of method. High-resolution, 3-dimensional CT images are transformed into synchronised radiographic images by applying specialised software tools. This simultaneous CT-DR correlation combines the advantages of CT as the golden standard method for bone imaging with DR’s clinical feasibility. Credit: Gabriela Galateanu

A new imaging strategy of synchronising computed tomography with digital radiography helps to diagnose and initiate appropriate treatment of foot diseases in mega-vertebrates.

An international team of scientists led by the German Leibniz Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) developed and employed a new imaging strategy to diagnose foot diseases in Southern white and Indian rhinoceroses. This pioneering approach of combining and synchronising computed tomography (CT) with digital radiography (DR) endows wildlife clinicians with all-important tools: exposure protocols, modus operandi for foot positioning, reliable anatomical landmarks, species-related optimal radiographic views, and interpretation of normal anatomical and pathological aspects.

"We provide veterinary clinicians with concrete imaging techniques and substantial that will facilitate straightforward implementation and interpretation of field radiographic images from rhinoceros feet taken worldwide", says Dr Gabriela Galateanu, joint first author of the study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

In the absence of diagnostic tools and identification of the conditions that lead to bone-related foot pathologies, measures cannot be taken to prevent them and proper treatments cannot be initiated to alleviate suffering. Bearing in mind the severe impact of chronic foot disease on reproductive and general health status of captive rhinoceroses, the importance of eradicating such disorders in zoological gardens is of urgent priority. Zoological gardens play an important role in ex situ conservation efforts of rhinoceroses. "Therefore, it is our hope that following the publication of our study, foot radiographic examination will become a standard diagnostic procedure and, ideally, will also be periodically performed as a monitoring tool", commented Galateanu.

The study also provides, for the first time, taxa-specific unique radiographic views with improved bone visualisation over the traditional projections, and an assessment of the diagnostic value of every radiographic view, for the whole foot and separately for each podial bone.

After successful evolution during approximately 40 million years and a diversification into a substantial number of taxa, the Rhinocerotidae family is nowadays reduced to only five living species. Owing to habitat loss and heavy poaching for rhino horns, four of the five species are already on the brink of extinction. Being killed by poachers even in their protected sanctuaries, the future for some of the rhino species might lie solely in captivity.

Nevertheless, despite their long history in captivity, extending at least to Roman times, even the fate of some rhinoceros species in zoological collections is still uncertain. Captive rhinos are confronted with chronic foot diseases, a group of severe disorders previously thought to be confined to soft tissues and recently shown to include diverse severe bone pathologies.

Unfortunately, as radiography is the only foot imaging technique available to date for these charismatic species, veterinary clinicians lacked both a modus operandi and diagnostic evaluation tools. The results of this study will hopefully contribute to an improved welfare by helping to diagnose and focus treatment of foot diseases in these mega-vertebrates.

Explore further: X-ray dark-field radiography provides detailed imaging of lung diseases

More information: Galateanu G, Hermes R, Saragusty J, Göritz F, Potier R, Mulot B, Maillot A, Etienne P, Bernardino R, Fernandes T, Mews J, Hildebrandt TB (2014): "Rhinoceros feet step out of a rule-of-thumb: a wildlife imaging pioneering approach of synchronized computed tomography-digital radiography." PLOS ONE,

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dual agent scan differentiates diabetic foot disorders

Jun 11, 2013

Researchers are kick-starting better diabetic foot care and promoting reduced radiation dose with a new take on a hybrid molecular imaging technique. By targeting both bone cell activity and immune response and improving ...

US bars sale, trade of white rhino horns

Sep 10, 2013

The last remaining species of rhinoceros that is not endangered will receive new US protection due to an intensifying poaching crisis, federal wildlife officials said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

New 'enigma' moth helps crack evolution's code

1 hour ago

Aenigmatinea glatzella – which has iridescent gold and purple wings – is a 'living dinosaur' that represents an entirely new family of primitive moths. This is the first time since the 1970s that a new ...

Bridge jumper says sea lion saved him

5 hours ago

A man who jumped off San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge to try to take his own life and was kept afloat by a sea lion said Wednesday suicide prevention was now his life's work.

Brazil receives macaw pair from Germany

5 hours ago

A pair of endangered blue macaws of the kind made famous by the hit animated "Rio" movies arrived in Brazil from Germany on Tuesday as part of a drive to ensure the bird's survival.

Study shows one reason why pigeons so rarely crash

21 hours ago

(—A pair of researchers with Harvard University has uncovered one of the secrets behind pigeons' impressive flight abilities. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.