Original Research

The post-occipital spinal venous sinus of the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus): Its anatomy and use for blood sample collection and intravenous infusions

Jan G. Myburgh, Robert M. Kirberger, Johan C.A. Steyl, John T. Soley, Dirk G. Booyse, Fritz W. Huchzermeyer, Russel H. Lowers, Louis J. Guillette Jr
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 85, No 1 | a965 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v85i1.965 | © 2014 Jan G. Myburgh, Robert M. Kirberger, Johan C.A. Steyl, John T. Soley, Dirk G. Booyse, Fritz W. Huchzermeyer, Russel H. Lowers, Louis J. Guillette Jr | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 November 2012 | Published: 05 May 2014

About the author(s)

Jan G. Myburgh, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Robert M. Kirberger, Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Johan C.A. Steyl, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
John T. Soley, Department of Anatomy and Physiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Dirk G. Booyse, Department of Anatomy and Physiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Fritz W. Huchzermeyer, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Russel H. Lowers, InoMedic Health Applications, Kennedy Space Center, United States
Louis J. Guillette Jr, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical University of South Carolina, United States and Hollings Marine Laboratory, Charleston, United States


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Abstract

The post-occipital sinus of the spinal vein is often used for the collection of blood samples from crocodilians. Although this sampling method has been reported for several crocodilian species, the technique and associated anatomy has not been described in detail in any crocodilian, including the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus). The anatomy of the cranial neck region was investigated macroscopically, microscopically, radiographically and by means of computed tomography. Latex was injected into the spinal vein and spinal venous sinus of crocodiles to visualise the regional vasculature. The spinal vein ran within the vertebral canal, dorsal to and closely associated with the spinal cord and changed into a venous sinus cranially in the post-occipital region. For blood collection, the spinal venous sinus was accessed through the interarcuate space between the atlas and axis (C1 and C2) by inserting a needle angled just off the perpendicular in the midline through the craniodorsal cervical skin, just cranial to the cranial borders of the first cervical osteoderms. The most convenient method of blood collection was with a syringe and hypodermic needle. In addition, the suitability of the spinal venous sinus for intravenous injections and infusions in live crocodiles was evaluated. The internal diameter of the commercial human epidural catheters used during these investigations was relatively small, resulting in very slow infusion rates. Care should be taken not to puncture the spinal cord or to lacerate the blood vessel wall using this route for blood collection or intravenous infusions.

Keywords

anatomy, blood sampling, computed tomography, Crocodylus niloticus, intravenous infusion, Nile crocodile, spinal vein, spinal venous sinus

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