Hedley J, Eatwell K, Schwarz T.
Anesthesia and tube restraint methods are often required for computed tomography (CT) of snakes due to their natural tendency to curl up. However, these restraint methods may cause animal stress. The aim of this study was to determine whether the CT appearance of the lungs differs for ball pythons in a curled position vs. tube restraint. Whole body CT was performed on ten clinically healthy ball pythons, first in curled and then in straight positions restrained in a tube. Curved multiplanar reformatted (MPR) lung images from curled position scans were compared with standard MPR lung images from straight position scans. Lung attenuation and thickness were measured at three locations for each scan. Time for positioning and scanning was 12 ± 5 min shorter for curled snakes compared to tube restraint. Lung parenchyma thickness and attenuation declined from cranial to caudal on both straight and curled position images. Mean lung parenchyma thickness was greater in curled images at locations 1 (P = 0.048) and 3 (P = 0.044). Mean lung parenchyma thickness decreased between location 1 and 2 by 86–87% (straight: curled) and between location 1 and 3 by 51-50% (straight: curled). Mean lung attenuation at location 1 was significantly greater on curled position images than tube restraint images (P = 0.043). Findings indicated that CT evaluation of the lungs is feasible for ball pythons positioned in curled recumbency if curved MPR is available. However, lung parenchyma thickness and attenuation in some locations may vary from those acquired using tube restraint.