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Can Vet J. 2010 January; 51(1): 62.
PMCID: PMC2797350

Clinical Radiology of Exotic Companion Mammals

Reviewed by Julie M. Deroo, HBSc, DVM

Capello V, Lennox AM. Wiley-Blackwell, Ames, Iowa, USA. 2008. ISBN 9780-8138-1049-2. $179.99. 

As a small animal practitioner who sees a steady stream of exotic patients, along with cats and dogs, I eagerly awaited the publication of this text. When it comes to exotic animal medicine, a new source of clinical information is always welcomed. The goal of this book is best stated in the preface, “We hope this reference can eliminate the number of times we’ve had to examine a radiograph, and be faced with the fact that we might know what we were seeing ‘if only this were a very small dog or cat…’” As stated on the cover, this text is an extensive review of both normal and abnormal radiographic patterns. It’s going to be an oft-used addition to my library.

Chapter 1 deals with the basics of radiology including a brief overview of the physics involved (ugh), how to obtain and process a good quality film, equipment, contrast radiography, an introduction to computed tomography, and radiation safety. I found the most useful section of this chapter to be the information on patient positioning. Excellent quality photographs of the positioned patient are accompanied by an image of the radiograph you’d expect to obtain. This chapter would make a great read for any technician as well.

The remaining 14 chapters are organized by species and include the rabbit, guinea pig, chinchilla, degu, rat, mouse, hamster, prairie dog, and other squirrel-like rodents, ferret, skunk, sugar glider, Virginia opossum, potbellied pig, and African pygmy hedgehog. Some chapters, for example the more commonly seen species such as rabbits and ferrets, are covered in more depth than others.

Each chapter is broken down by anatomic structure. The rabbit chapter begins with radiographs of the normal head in various projections, including intraoral. Two copies of the same radiograph are shown. One is labeled extensively to help you locate anatomic features. As a reminder, an image of the animal being radiographed in its proper position is included. The next series of images are abnormalities of the head, including diseases of the teeth. In the margins are helpful figures that illustrate the pathology, accompanied by a written description. The author often includes ‘little pearls of wisdom’ in these descriptions (for example the treatment of choice for a given problem) that I found to be both interesting and helpful. Lastly, computed tomography of the head is illustrated. In similar fashion to the head, the chapter continues with normal total body projections, the normal and abnormal thorax, abdomen and vertebral column, myelography of the vertebral column, and normal and abnormal thoracic and pelvic limbs. Not all chapters contain all this information. For example, the sugar glider chapter includes only the normal, whole body projections, though still extremely well labeled.

The text ends with an extensive list of references for those who want to research a particular topic in more detail and a comprehensive index.

I would absolutely recommend this text to any clinician whose patients include exotic mammals. The number of species covered in this well-organized book, along with the extensive coverage of both normal and abnormal radiographic patterns will make it a welcome addition to their library.

Articles from The Canadian Veterinary Journal are provided here courtesy of Canadian Veterinary Medical Association