Radiographic features of the limbs of juvenile and subadult loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta)

Ana Luisa Valente, Ignasi Marco, Maria Angeles Zamora, Maria Luz Parga, Santiago Lavín, Ferran Alegre, Rafaela Cuenca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to provide the normal radiographic anatomic appearance of the limbs of the loggerhead sea turtle, Caretta caretta. Dorsopalmar and dorsoplantar radiographs were taken of the forelimbs and hindlimbs of 15 juvenile and 15 subadult loggerhead sea turtles, 17 alive and 13 dead. For comparison, computed tomographic, gross anatomic, osteologic, and histologic studies were performed on the limbs of 5 of the sea turtles. Bones from the distal part of the fore and hind flippers were seen in detail with a mammographic film-screen combination. The pectoral and pelvic girdles, superimposed by the carapace, were better seen on standard radiographs with the use of rare-earth intensifying screens. Mammographic radiographs of the manus of 5 small juvenile turtles showed active growth zones. Visualization of bone contours in the distal part of the limbs was clearer than in mammals owing to the very few superimpositions. The presence of a substantial amount of cartilage in the epiphyses produced better visibility of limb ends. We conclude that use of a mammography film-screen combination is the best way to evaluate the bony and joint structures of the limbs of sea turtles. Radiography provides reliable images for clinical purposes. Considering the low cost and logistics of this technique, it is a practical ancillary test for marine animal rehabilitation centers to use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-313
JournalCanadian Journal of Veterinary Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2007


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