Ultrasonography of the Harderian gland in the rabbit, guinea pig, and chinchilla

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To evaluate the Harderian gland in rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas using B-mode ultrasound and to determine normal size and changes in size and/or location in normal and diseased eyes and orbits by ultrasonographic measurements.


Normal Harderian glands were evaluated ultrasonographically in 20 rabbits, 10 guinea pigs, and eight chinchillas. The Harderian gland was measured ultrasonographically in horizontal and vertical planes. Normal Harderian gland sizes were then compared with sizes in 27 rabbits, 13 guinea pigs, and three chinchillas that had exophthalmos.


Harderian glands in normal rabbits were 0.69 ± 0.07 cm (mean value ± SD) horizontally and 1.33 ± 0.14 cm vertically. Harderian glands in normal guinea pigs were 0.58 ± 0.05 cm horizontally and 0.61 ± 0.10 vertically. In normal chinchillas, the Harderian glands were 0.53 ± 0.04 cm horizontally and 0.53 ± 0.03 cm vertically. Harderian glands were significantly larger in the vertical plane in rabbits with exophthalmos (P = 0.001) and in the horizontal plane in guinea pigs with exophthalmos (P = 0.018). Harderian glands of rabbits with exophthalmos were significantly larger in both diseased and healthy glands in both planes compared with those of normal rabbits. Guinea pigs and chinchillas with exophthalmos had larger Harderian glands bilaterally in only the vertical plane.


Ultrasonography is a valuable diagnostic imaging technique to evaluate the Harderian gland in the rabbit, guinea pig, and chinchilla. Retrobulbar pathologic processes cause enlargement of the Harderian gland, which may be attributable to inflammation or possible obstruction of the excretory ducts.

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