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TDK conference 2022

Computer tomography based 3D reconstruction of the Blood supply of rhinoceros' distal limbs
Cerny Claudia - year 6
University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Department of Anatomy and Histology
Supervisors: Dr. László Zoltán Reinitz, Dr. Örs Petneházy


Rhinoceros is a highly protected species close to extinction. Each of the five still-existing rhino species (wide-mouthed rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) and the Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)) are on the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. As the second largest terrestrial mammal on Earth, its limbs have to carry an enormous weight (average body weight varies around 2.3 tons). In order to bear this huge mass, numerous unique anatomical structures make the limbs special.

Specimens in captivity suffer from several podiatric and other limb-related diseases, such as osteitis, osteomyelitis, chip fractures, entoesophyta, fractures, subluxatio and osteoarthritis in least 50% of the cases. These osteal deformations cause further pathogenic issues in the soft tissues, particularly the diseases of the digital cushion (torus digitalis), e.g. sole ulcer. In order to recognize the symptoms in an early state and find the proper treatment, accurate anatomical knowledge is essential. The literature provides good description of the rhino's limbs' skeleton, but descriptions, pictures, reconstruction models of the vascular system are non-existent. The purpose of our study is to provide a detailed anatomical description of the feet, focusing on the blood supply of the digits and that of the digital cushion.

Our team examined the forelimbs and hind limbs of a squared-lipped rhino kept and died in a zoo. The CT examinations were carried out in the Somogy County Kaposi Mór Teaching Hospital, Dr. Baka József Diagnostical and Oncoradiological Centre. First, native, thin-slice CTs were performed on the limbs. Second, iv. catheters were inserted into the main blood vessels of the limbs (a. mediana, a. saphena and a. dorsalis pedis) and BaSO4 based contrast agents were injected. The following CT examinations were performed with the limbs being held in the same position. The sequences were processed 3D Slicer, allowing us to create reconstructions of the bones and the vascular system.

The blood supply of the distal feet, digits and digital cushions are perfectly visible on the reconstructed and coloured models. Using comparative anatomy, we identified the vessels and succeeded to create the first description of the rhinoceros' digital cushion blood supply, that - similarly to elephants- origins from the arcus palmaris/plantaris profundus but due to the different numbers of fingers, branches differently.

The examined legs were macerated, and we created bone preparations for the Museum of Anatomy. The finalized 3D models - which are also suitable for 3D printing - make these unique animals' foot anatomy easier to understand and access for everyone. We hope that our work contributes to saving the species since the models and images are already available online.

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