Comparison of Computed Tomographic Images of Birds Obtained With Sedation vs General Anesthesia

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Computed tomography (CT) is an increasingly available and valuable imaging modality for the diagnosis of companion avian pets. Previously, CT studies of birds required general anesthesia with inhalant anesthetics. Owing to the risks associated with general anesthesia, the authors of this article investigated the effect of sedation on birds during a CT examination. In this study, 10 psittacine birds were imaged using a 40-slice helical CT scanner. Birds were sedated with midazolam and butorphanol and placed in a positioning device. Following the initial study, birds were removed from the device and placed under general anesthesia with isoflurane. A second study was then performed. Two radiologists, blinded to the identity of the birds and partially blinded to the conditions of the study, reviewed the images. Studies were evaluated using a questionnaire consisting of 18 questions. Each question was scored on a Likert scale. A Wilcoxon signed rank test compared scores of sedated and anesthetized birds. A significant difference (P = 0.05) between sedated and anesthetized studies was found for 2 of 18 (11.1%) questions for radiologist 1 and 1 of 18 (5.5%) questions for radiologist 2, with differences identified in the scleral ossicles and the femoral heads. Interrater agreement for all questions using a linearly weighted κ was 0.334 and 0.311 for sedated and anesthetized birds, respectively, indicating fair agreement. The interrater agreement, excluding the head and musculoskeletal system, was 0.381 for sedated animals, indicating fair agreement, and 0.404 for anesthetized birds, indicating moderate agreement. Based on our results, performing CT studies in birds with sedation is a viable alternative to studies performed under general anesthesia.

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