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Bovine thoracoscopy: Surgical technique and normal anatomy




To describe a surgical technique for thoracoscopy and report visible anatomy within the thoracic cavity of standing cattle.

Study design

Prospective study.


Adult clinically healthy Holstein–Friesian cows (n = 15).


Each cow had four thoracoscopic examinations. Initially, the left hemithorax was examined after passive lung collapse, then again 24 hours later after CO2 insufflation. The right hemithorax was examined 24 hours later after passive lung collapse and again 24 hours later after CO2 insufflation.


CO2 insufflation did not significantly improve visibility within the pleural space. Collapsed lung, aorta, esophagus, diaphragm, and azygos vein were readily viewed; however, the pericardial region was not consistently visible. Minor laceration of the lung occurred in 1 cow with adhesions, otherwise there were no intra- or postoperative complications. All cows recovered without signs of discomfort. No local swelling or emphysema occurred at the portals.


Thoracoscopy can be safely performed on healthy standing cattle.

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