A review of diagnostic imaging of snakes and lizards

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Abstract

Snakes and lizards are considered ‘stoic’ animals and often show only non-specific signs of illness. Consequently, diagnostic imaging – along with clinical examination and laboratory tests – is gaining importance in making a final diagnosis and establishing a correct therapy. The large number of captive snake and lizard species commonly kept as pets, together with the high inter- and intraspecific morphological variability that is innate in these animals, make the analysis of diagnostic images challenging for the veterinary practitioner. Moreover, a thorough knowledge of the anatomy, physiology and pathology of the species that are the object of clinical investigation is mandatory for the correct interpretation of diagnostic images. Despite the large amount of clinical and scientific work carried out in the past two decades, the radiographic features of snakes and lizards have not undergone systematic description, and therefore veterinarians often have to rely mostly on anatomical studies rather than radiological literature. The aim of this paper is to review the most commonly used diagnostic imaging modalities, as well as to provide an overview of the available international original studies and scientific reviews describing the normal and pathological imaging features in snakes and lizards.

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