DISEASE SUMMARY PAGE

Hepatic Lobe Torsion in Rabbits

Summary Information
Diseases / List of Miscellaneous / Metabolic / Multifactorial Diseases / Disease summary
Alternative Names  
Disease Agents
  • Torsion occurs when an organ twists about an axis perpendicular to the organ's base of support, and may vary from 180 to 360 degrees or more.
  • Following torsion, the vascular supply is compromised and in particular venous return is occluded. If the torsion is not relieved, this leads to necrosis.

(J26.12.w1)

Infectious Agent(s) --
Non-infectious Agent(s) --
Physical Agent(s) --
General Description
Clinical signs
  • In a 2.5-year-old female New Zealand white rabbit: sudden onset anorexia, refusal to drink, and weakness. (J506.17.w1)
    • Physical examination: Mucous membranes pale, jaundiced. Body temperature below normal (100.5 F), rapid respiration, weak, rapid pulse (>200 bpm) abdomen slightly distended, on the second day liver palpably enlarged, with rounded margins. Death after four days. (J506.17.w1)
    • Clinical pathology: very high serum alanine aminotransferase, elevated BUN, low haematocrit. (J506.17.w1)
  • May present as "acute abdomen" or sudden death. (J213.8.w2)
  • Sudden death in a four-month-old male New Zealand White rabbit (J495.37.w2)
  • Note: In three cases in New Zealand white rabbits, torsion of the caudate lobe of the liver was an incidental finding in rabbits which died due to pasteurellosis (Pasteurellosis in Lagomorphs); no associated clinical signs were noted. (J26.12.w1)
  • In a six-year-old male neutered domestic rabbit, lethargy and uncharacteristic lying on one side. (J29.16.w1)
    • The rabbit's heart rate was elevated. Abdominal palpation revealed a sensitive mass in the right dorsal abdomen. (J29.16.w1)
    • On exploratory laparotomy, the caudate lobe was found to be "swollen, firm and devitalized" and to have undergone torsion around a pedicle of blood vessels and other tissues at the distinct hilum of the lobe. The lobe was considered to be necrotic, as it did not bleed when incised. (J29.16.w1)
Pathology

Gross

  • In two rabbits, an atrophic, black, dry remnant of the affected caudal lobe was an incidental finding at necropsy. (J26.12.w1)
  • In one rabbit, the caudal lobe was twisted 360-degrees clockwise, with vascular occlusion and swelling of the lobe. On the cut surface the consistency was "typical of fresh red infarcts." (J26.12.w1)
  • In a 2.5-year-old female New Zealand white rabbit: (J506.17.w1)
    • Hepatic: Caudate lobe mottled dark red-brown, swollen, and coated with fibrin; there was a 180 degree clockwise torsion of the lobe. The rest of the liver was tan in colour with an obvious lobular pattern. (J506.17.w1)
    • Additional findings: profuse haemothorax, lungs collapsed and oedematous, abdominal fat showed yellow discolouration, abdomen contained several strands of clotted blood. (J506.17.w1)
  • In a four-month-old male New Zealand White rabbit: 180 degree clockwise torsion of the posterior lobule of the left lobe, with the affected lobe enlarged, turgid, with rounded borders, mottled deep red-brown and with moderate fibrin on the capsule; the rest of the liver was a yellowish mahogany colour. (J495.37.w2)
  • Caudate lobe torsion, with associated findings such as abdominal transudate, or frank haemorrhage. (B614.15.w15)

Histopathology

  • Hepatic:
    • Affected tissue showed coagulative necrosis, with a zone of acute infiltration by inflammatory cells separating this from the normal tissue. (J26.12.w1)
    • In a four-month-old male New Zealand White rabbit: diffuse coagulative necrosis affecting hepatocytes and stroma. (J495.37.w2)
    • In a six-year-old male neutered domestic rabbit, following surgical removal, the affected lobe showed diffuse coagulative necrosis. (J29.16.w1)
    • In a 2.5-year-old female New Zealand white rabbit: severe, diffuse coagulative necrosis. (J506.17.w1)
  • Other:
    • In a 2.5-year-old female New Zealand white rabbit: diffuse oedema and congestion of the lungs, moderate bile pigment in the kidneys (in renal tubule lumina and in renal tubular epithelial cells). (J506.17.w1)
Further Information
  • This has been noted only rarely in domestic rabbits. (B614.15.w15, J26.12.w1)
  • In most reported cases, the caudate lobe was affected. (B614.15.w15)
Treatment
  • One case in a domestic rabbit was treated successfully by surgical lobectomy: Following a midline incision for exploratory laparotomy, the pedicle of the torsioned, devitalized lobe was clamped and ligated with a single terminal ligature of 3-0 catgut, after which the lobe was transected distal to the ligature, and removed. The abdominal incision was closed in three layers, using a simple continuous pattern of sutures in each layer, with 3-0 polyglactin (Vicryl, Johnson & Johnson, Somerville, NJ, USA). (J29.16.w1)
  • See: Laparotomy in Rabbits
Associated Techniques
Host taxa groups /species
Disease Author Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referees Richard Saunders BVSc BSc CertZooMed MRCVS (V.w121)

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