Diagnosis and treatment of urolithiasis in client-owned chelonians: 40 cases (1987–2012)

Krista A. Keller, Michelle G. Hawkins, E. P. Scott Weber, Annette L. Ruby, David Sanchez Migallon Guzman, Jodi L. Westropp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective—To calculate the prevalence of urolithiasis in client-owned chelonians examined at a veterinary teaching hospital and to describe the clinical signs, diagnosis, and treatment of urolithiasis in chelonians. Design—Retrospective case series. Animals—40 client-owned turtles and tortoises with urolithiasis. Procedures—The medical record database of a veterinary teaching hospital was searched from 1987 through 2012 for records of client-owned chelonians with urolithiasis. The prevalence of urolithiasis was calculated for client-owned chelonians examined at the hospital. Signalment and physical examination, hematologic, biochemical, urinalysis, diagnostic imaging, treatment, and necropsy results were described. Results—The mean prevalence of urolithiasis in client-owned chelonians for the study period was 5.1 cases/100 client-owned chelonians examined. Thirty-one of the 40 chelonians were desert tortoises. Only 5 of 40 chelonians had physical examination abnormalities associated with the urogenital tract. Surgery was performed on 17 chelonians; 5 developed postoperative complications, and 4 of those died. Necropsy was performed on 18 chelonians, and urolithiasis contributed to the decision to euthanize or was the cause of death for 9. Uroliths from 13 chelonians were analyzed, and all were composed of 100% urate. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated chelonians with urolithiasis have various clinical signs and physical examination findings that may or may not be associated with the urinary tract. Hematologic, biochemical, and urinalysis findings were nonspecific for diagnosis of urolithiasis. Many chelonians died or were euthanized as a consequence of urolithiasis, which suggested the disease should be identified early and appropriately treated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)650-658
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 15 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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