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Atypical exophthalmos -rabbits

Conférence Icare 2017


  • A 3-year-old entire male rabbit and a 5-year-old neutered female rabbit were respectively presented for unilateral exophthalmos that appeared within a few days.
    No trauma was reported by the owners. On clinical examination, the male rabbit presented an important exophthalmos with subluxation of the eye and an altered body condition.
  • The female rabbit was in good body condition. They presented a moderate malocclusion of cheek teeth and a slight swelling of the mandibular bones.

Auteurs : Drs. Christophe Bulliot, Sophie Romain, Elise Rattez, Lucas Flenghi, Céline Levrier. 10-07 -2017
Service NAC – Centre Hospitalier Vétérinaire des Cordeliers,
29 avenue du Maréchal Joffre, 77100 Meaux.
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Atypical cases of exophthalmos with dental origin in two rabbits (oryctolagus cuniculus)

The differential diagnosis for unilateral exophthalmos included periapical lesion consistent with granuloma or abscess formation, neoplasia, trauma, hematoma, Taenia serialis cyst, lacrymal gland disease, fat prolapse, foreign body and salivary sialocele.1-10 A computed tomography was performed and confirmed retro orbital abscess with dental origin in both cases.

Unexpectedly, the origin of the dental abscess involved the mandibular teeth and not the maxillary teeth. The orbital abscesses were in continuity with mandibular abscesses with important lesion of the ascendant ramus of the mandible. The first rabbit was euthanized because of a poor body condition and concomitant vestibular syndrome.
A surgical treatment was performed for the second rabbit.

It consisted in a drainage of abscess through the lower eyelid and the mandibular swelling, and tooth extraction. A follow up was performed every 4 months. The rabbit died naturally two years after surgery without recurrence.

The goal of this presentation is to underline the importance of computed tomography in dental disease diagnosis and to add mandibular dental abscess as a possible etiology of exophthalmos in rabbit.


1. Arzi B, Sinclair K. Diagnostic imaging in veterinary dental practice. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2010;236(6):648.
2. Böhmer E. Dentistry in rabbits and rodents. Oxford, UK: Wiley Blackwell; 2015.
3. Capello V, Gracis M, Lennox AM, Rabbit and Rodent Dentistry Handbook. Lake Worth, Florida, USA: Zoological Education Network; 2005.
4. Capello V, Lennox A. Small mammal dentistry. In: Quesenberry K.E., Carpenter M., Ferrets, rabbits and rodents, clinical medicine and surgery. Saint Louis, Missouri, USA: Saunders; 2012:452-471.
5. Harcourt Brown F, Chitty J. BSAVA Manual of Rabbit Surgery, Dentistry and Imaging. Gloucester, UK: BSAVA; 2013.
6. Knott T. Ophthalmology. In: Meredith A et Lord B. BSAVA Rabbit medicine. Gloucester, UK: BSAVA; 2014.
7. Oglesbee B, Blackwell’s five-minute veterinary consult: small mammal. Ames, Iowa, USA: Wiley-Blackwell; 2011.
8. O’Reilly A, McCowan C, Hardman C, Stanley R. Taenia serialis causing exophthalmos in a pet rabbit. Vet Ophthalmol. 2002;5(3):227-230.
9. Varga M. Textbook of rabbit medicine, 2d edition. Oxford, UK: BH Elsevier; 2013.
10. Wagner F, Beinecke A, Fehr M, Brunkhorst N, Mischke R, Gruber AD. Recurrent bilateral exophthalmos associated with metastatic thymic carcinoma in a pet rabbit. J Small Anim Pract. 2005 Aug;46(8):393-397.


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