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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2010 Aug 1;237(3):311-6. doi: 10.2460/javma.237.3.311.

Esophageal dysfunction in four alpaca crias and a llama cria with vascular ring anomalies.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.



3 alpaca crias and cadavers of an alpaca cria and a llama cria were evaluated for evidence of esophageal dysfunction.


All 5 crias were between 3 and 5 months of age when clinical signs developed, and all had a thin body condition when examined. Clinical signs included coughing, regurgitation, and grossly visible esophageal peristaltic waves. A barium esophagram was used to diagnose esophageal obstruction, megaesophagus, and a vascular ring anomaly (VRA). Fluoroscopy was used to evaluate deglutition, esophageal peristalsis, and the extent of esophageal dilation in 1 alpaca cria. A persistent right aortic arch was identified in 1 alpaca cria, and a left aortic arch with right ductus arteriosus or ligamentum arteriosum and an aberrant right subclavian artery were identified in the 4 remaining crias.


Surgical correction of the VRA was attempted in the 3 live alpaca crias. It was complicated by the conformation and location of each VRA and inaccurate anatomic diagnosis of the VRAs before surgery. Treatment was universally unsuccessful because of intraoperative complications and the persistence of clinical signs after surgery.


Megaesophagus is typically an idiopathic condition in camelids. However, these findings suggested that camelids with esophageal dysfunction during the neonatal period may have a VRA. The prognosis is grave for camelids with VRA, and accurate anatomic diagnosis of the VRA via the use of advanced imaging techniques (eg, angiography, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging) may improve the success of surgical intervention.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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