June 21, 2024

Thoracolumbar Kyphoscoliosis and Compression Fracture of a Thoracic Vertebra in a Captive Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)


Alastair Watson, Robert J. Bahr, and Joseph W. Alexander


Abstract: A captive-born, 7-year-old male bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) suddenly acquired a dorsal hump at the cranial base of its dorsal fin. Subsequent clinical signs or swimming abnormalities were not observed and one year later it died suddenly. Necropsy revealed chronic cholangiohepatitis and lymphadenitis suggestive of a viral infection, with kyphoscoliosis centered on an old malunion compression fracture of the 12th thoracic vertebra associated with moderate bony proliferation, fusion, and lysis of this and adjacent vertebrae. Possible causes of fractures, particularly conspecific aggression, and the remarkable functional longevity of dolphins with vertebral malformations are discussed.

Key Words: bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, thoracic vertebrae, fracture, kyphoscoliosis, necropsy

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.30.2.2004.275

Page Numbers: 275-278

Info SKU: Vol__30__Iss__2__Watson_et_al Category: