Rabbit radiographic positioning guide

Top tips on getting the best position for top quality rabbit radiographs

Posted: 11 January 2018

Rabbit radiographic positioning guide


1. Whole body xrays

  • The whole body projection generally includes all structures.
  • This view is usually taken as a compromise, and won’t give you the best chances of a diagnosis unless the radiographic features are very obvious.
  • Don’t rely on this view when a specific study of the thorax, abdomen or limbs is required.
  • The patient is usually positioned in right or left lateral recumbancy, or in a dorsoventral or ventrodorsal position.
  • The head and limbs are usually kept in a neutral position.

2. Head xrays

Lateral views

  • Right or left - the patient is placed on its side in right or left lateral recumbancy.
  • Head horizontal – by aligning the philtrum (the junction between the two halves of an animal's upper lip) with the table and cassette, the head will be flat and horizontal.
  • Use positioning aids - pieces of radiolucent foam can be used to raise the head if necessary.
  • Position the beam - the x-ray beam is best centred just forward and below the eye.

Oblique views

  • Keep the patient in right or left lateral recumbancy.
  • Tilt the head approximately 20° from a true lateral position.

Dorsoventral views

  • The patient is placed in ventral recumbancy.
  • Extend and secured the neck – hold in place with tape.
  • Keep the head parallel to the cassette.
  • Direct the xray beam between the eyes and midline

3. Thoracic xrays

Lateral views

  • The rabbit is placed in left or right lateral recumbancy.
  • Extend the legs cranially and secure in place with a sandbag or tape.
  • Keep the neck extended.
  • Direct the xray beam onto the caudal border of the scapula.
  • Intubate and inflate for lung field assessment.
  • Place radiolucent foam wedge under the sternum to keep the thoracic cage parallel with the cassette.

Dorsoventral view

  • Place the rabbit in ventral recumbancy on the cassette.
  • Extend the thoracic limbs cranially and tape or sandbag securely to either side of the head.
  • Position the ears to avoid superimposition with the thoracic cavity.
  • Centre the x-ray beam on the middle of the thoracic spine, along the midline.
  • Intubate and take the xray at maximum inspiration to enable clear evaluation of the lung fields.

4. Abdominal xrays

Lateral views

  • Place the rabbit in right or left lateral recumbancy.
  • Pull the hind limbs caudally and secure using tape or sand bags – this helps to avoid superimposition of the femurs over the caudal abdominal area.
  • Centre the x-ray beam in the mid-abdomen.

Ventrodorsal view

  • Keep the rabbit in dorsal recumbancy on the cassette.
  • Pull the thoracic limbs cranially or leave in a neutral position.
  • Pull the hind limbs caudally and secured with tape.
  • Centre the x-ray beam in the midline of the middle portion of the lumbar spine to include the caudal thorax and the whole pelvis.

Abdominal contrast media

  • Liquid barium sulphate can be given orally (3ml/kg to 10ml/kg) for upper gastrointestinal tract contrast study.
  • Gastric hairballs (trichobezoars) in the stomach can be highlighted using contrast fluid.
  • If there is suspicion of GI perforation, iodine based solutions can be used instead.
  • Iodine based contrast media can also be used for urinary investigations.