Computed tomography of the vertebral column and coelomic structures in the normal loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)

A. L S Valente, R. Cuenca, M. Zamora, M. L. Parga, S. Lavin, F. Alegre, I. Marco

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The aim of this study was to determine the normal computed tomography (CT) appearance of the vertebral column and coelomic structures of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) and to use three-dimensional (3D) and multiplanar reconstructions to indicate the position of each organ in relation to the vertebrae and carapace. Transverse sections of 1 mm thickness were performed in seven clinically healthy and in five dead loggerhead sea turtles using multi-detector CT equipment. A computer workstation was used for multiplanar and 3D reconstructions. Dead turtles were frozen and sectioned in the transverse, dorsal and sagittal planes to compare the anatomical structures' appearance with CT images. Clinically relevant organs including the oesophagus, stomach, trachea, bronchi, lungs, liver, gallbladder, heart, spleen, kidneys and vertebral canal were identified in CT images. Computed tomography provides detailed information on the respiratory system and skeleton; the location of the coelomic structures with respect to the carapace and the vertebrae that is provided in this work will facilitate the use of other ancillary diagnostic techniques such as ultrasound, radiography and biopsy, thereby improving safety of access in surgical procedures. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-370
JournalVeterinary Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2007


  • Chelonians
  • Computed tomography
  • Cross-sectional anatomy
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Three-dimensional reconstruction


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