Original Research

Diagnosis of suspected hypovitaminosis A using magnetic resonance imaging in African lions (Panthera leo)

M.P. Hartley, R.M. Kirberger, M. Haagenson, L. Sweers
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 76, No 3 | a414 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v76i3.414 | © 2005 M.P. Hartley, R.M. Kirberger, M. Haagenson, L. Sweers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 June 2005 | Published: 14 June 2005

About the author(s)

M.P. Hartley,
R.M. Kirberger,
M. Haagenson,
L. Sweers,

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Vitamin A deficiency is described in captive lions. Ante mortem diagnosis can either be made by serum analysis or liver biopsy, both of which may be problematic. This study utilised magnetic resonance imaging to identify vitamin A deficiency in lions with relatively mild clinical signs, which could otherwise be attributed to numerous other neurological conditions. Magnetic resonance imaging is a non-invasive, reliable diagnostic tool to demonstrate pathology typically associated with this condition. To accommodate varying lion ages and sizes, a number of cranium and brain measurements were compared with that of the maximum diameter of the occular vitreous humor. Occular ratios of the tentorium cerebelli osseum and occipital bone were most reliable in diagnosing the thickened osseous structures characteristic of hypovitaminosis A. The ratio of maximum : minimum dorsoventral diameter of the C1 spinal cord was also of value.


Hypovitaminosis A; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Panthera Leo


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