A donation of 50 elephant feet to the RVC for postmortem, research and teaching have provided an “invaluable insight” of foot disease in the species and aided future diagnosis of lameness in the animals.

CT scans found every one of the 50 elephants had experienced some degree of foot disease.

For the first time, RVC researchers have used CT scans to characterise skeletal problems in the feet – donated by zoos and safari parks across the EU – to gain a better understanding of which type of diseases affect the musculoskeletal system and which anatomical structures are most commonly affected.

Foot disease

CT scans showed every one of the 50 examined had some degree of foot disease at the time of death, with many of the problems relating to weight-bearing and ageing.

The study was performed by Sophie Regnault, a PhD student at the RVC’s structure and motion laboratory, and Jonathon Dixon, a clinical training scholar.

Their work, “Skeletal pathology and variable anatomy in elephant feet assessed using computed tomography”, has been published in the open access journal, Peer J.

Invaluable insight

RVC professor of evolutionary biomechanics John Hutchinson said: “This study has resulted in invaluable insight into the underlying causes behind musculoskeletal diseases that affect elephants’ feet.

“Along with previous research at the RVC, this study will help vets recognise foot disease and continue to improve elephant welfare and management.”

Dr Weller said: “This study is a great example of where biomechanics are linked to clinical problems, thus helping us vets to not only diagnose and treat disease better, but to also put preventive measures in place. It will also form the basis for further study on the effect of husbandry on musculoskeletal health in captive elephants.”

The study was supported by the Biotechnology Sciences Research Council (UK), and supervised by the RVC’s professor of comparative imaging and biomechanics Renate Weller.

View your activity >

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar

wpDiscuz

related content

The RVC has strengthened its ongoing educational twinning project with the Jordan University of Science and Technology by welcoming a delegation to its London headquarters.

3 mins

A novel study by US scientists may help British vets distinguish animal abuse from accidental trauma and “give a voice to the voiceless”.

4 mins

Circulation of the pathogen causing brucellosis, Brucella melitensis, could have been sustained within goat populations in the Neolithic Age, research suggests.

5 mins

A breakthrough that could help manage canine epilepsy by reducing seizures has been described by an RVC scientist involved in the research as “the most exciting thing I have done in my career”.

4 mins

Final year student Jordan Sinclair reveals the highlights of her final two student congresses, from discussions on EMS funding to practical sessions on equine dentistry.

7 mins

The RVC is offering testing for atypical myopathy – a severe and life-threatening equine muscle disorder caused by ingestion of sycamore tree seeds or seedlings by horses kept at pasture.