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Keywords:

  • elephant;
  • radiography;
  • lameness;
  • degenerative joint disease

Lameness in captive elephants is most commonly caused by pododermatitis or degenerative joint disease. Hard surfaces such as concrete, which produce a damp and cold environment, wet and muddy conditions, as well as restricted movement are the major causes of these problems. Radiography was performed in two African elephants at the Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna to determine the cause and extent of lameness. Various radiographic techniques are described for use in trained elephants. Low time settings were used to avoid loss of detail through movement and to minimize exposure while observing radiation safety. A 37-year-old elephant had front limb lameness due to an interdigital abscess. In radiographs of the foot an inhomogenous soft-tissue swelling without involvement of the phalanges was seen. Ultrasonography was helpful in visualizing the fluid-filled abscess. In additional joint radiographs severe degenerative joint disease was identified. A 13-year-old elephant had lameness of the hind limb. Radiographs of the hind limb from the foot to the stifle were made. Open physes and early signs of degenerative joint disease were identified on the radiographs.