Thoracoscopy as a safe and effective technique for exploring calves affected with bovine respiratory disease

  • Perez-Villalobos, Natividad (TRIALVET) ;
  • Espinosa-Crespo, Inaki ;
  • Sampayo-Cabrera, Jose (VES) ;
  • Gonzalez-Martin, Juan-Vicente (TRIALVET) ;
  • Gonzalez-Bulnes, Antonio (Departamento Reproduccion Animal (INIA)) ;
  • Astiz, Susana (Departamento Reproduccion Animal (INIA))
  • Received : 2016.11.08
  • Accepted : 2017.02.03
  • Published : 2017.03.31


Background: Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is one of the leading causes of economic losses in the beef and dairy industry. Reliable antemortem tools for diagnosing BRD would improve the efficacy of treatment and reduce costs. Here we examined whether the relatively simple technique of thoracoscopy can support BRD diagnosis under field conditions. We also compared various equipment set-ups in order to optimize the safety and efficacy of the procedure. A total of 24 thoracoscopic procedures were performed in 17 calves diagnosed with BRD and in 2 healthy control calves. Rigid and flexible endoscopes and industrial videoscopes were tested using various insertion approaches. The suitability of the technique was assessed in terms of duration, volume of air extracted, visualization score, and image quality. Safety was assessed in terms of rectal temperature, body weight, breaths/min, presence of fibrinogen, pain score, recovery time, intraoperative complications and risk of laceration or threatening collapse. Results: Insertion of a flexible endoscope via a right, dorso-caudal approach at the $5^{th}$ intercostal space allowed complete examination of the right lung in 15 min, as well as identification of main lung lesions and adherences in calves with BRD, without compromising calf welfare. While the dorso-caudal approach was optimal, it was associated with substantial discomfort when rigid endoscopes were used, minimal complications or mortality due to thoracoscopy were observed up to 28 days after the procedure. Videoscopes were as safe and easy to use as endoscopes, but endoscopes provided better image quality. Conclusion: This study provides the first field evidence that thoracoscopy can be safe to explore BRD-diseased calves. These results justify a larger study to rigorously assess the diagnostic performance of the technique.


Thoracoscopy;Bovine Respiratory Disease;Calves;Suitability;Field conditions


Supported by : Complutense University of Madrid


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