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Vet Radiol Ultrasound. 2010 Jan-Feb;51(1):42-7.

Comparison of Gastrografin to barium sulfate as a gastrointestinal contrast agent in red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans).

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  • 1Department of Comparative Medicine, Stanford University, Research Animal Facility 1, 287 Campus Drive, Stanford, CA 94305-5410, USA.


Red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) commonly develop intestinal obstruction. The gastrointestinal transit time in turtles tends to be longer than in other animals, making a rapid diagnosis of obstruction difficult. Fifteen red-eared sliders were given either Gastrografin or 30% w/v barium sulfate orally to compare ease of administration, transit time, and image quality. Each contrast medium was easy to administer but barium sulfate had to be administered more slowly (mean = 40s) than Gastrografin (mean = 20s) to prevent regurgitation. The mean transit and emptying time of Gastrografin was at least 9 h faster than barium sulfate at all time points except gastric transit. Both contrast media had a smooth, uniform appearance that outlined the mucosa with well-defined margins within the stomach and proximal small intestine. Dilution of Gastrografin occurred as it progressed through the intestines, resulting in decreased opacity in the distal small intestine and colon. Pre-administration packed cell volume and total serum protein levels of four turtles receiving Gastrografin were compared with levels at 24-, 96-, and 168-hours postadministration as well as to four control turtles not receiving contrast medium. Packed cell volume and total serum protein levels did not significantly differ among the Gastrografin and control group. From a clinical perspective, administration of Gastrografin allows for quicker results with only minor hematologic changes in red-eared sliders, but visualization of this contrast medium in the lower gastrointestinal tract may be insufficient for an accurate diagnosis.

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