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Ultrasonographic measurement of the adrenal gland in neonatal foals: reliability of the technique and assessment of variation in healthy foals during the first five days of life
  1. Eleonora Lauteri1,2,
  2. Jole Mariella3,
  3. Francesca Beccati1,
  4. Ellen De Graaf-Roelfsema4,
  5. Carolina Castagnetti3,5,
  6. Marco Pepe1,
  7. Tanja Peric6,
  8. Olimpia Barbato1,
  9. Marta Montillo6,
  10. Stefanie Rouge1 and
  11. Francesca Freccero3
  1. 1Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy
  2. 2Clinèquine, VetAgro Sup, University of Lyon, Marcy-l'Etoile, France
  3. 3Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Ozzano dell'Emilia, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
  4. 4Department of Equine Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  5. 5Health Science and Technologies Interdepartmental Center for Industrial Research (HST-ICIR), University of Bologna, Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
  6. 6Department of Food Sciences, University of Udine, Udine, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Eleonora Lauteri, Dipartimento di Medicina Veterinaria, University of Perugia Department of Veterinary Medicine, Perugia, Italy; eleonoralauteri{at}


Background Adrenal gland ultrasonographic measurements are useful in clinical evaluation of patients with adrenal dysfunction in several species. In human healthy neonates, the ultrasonographic size of the adrenal glands decreases during the first days of life. Ultrasonography of adrenal glands was demonstrated to be feasible in neonatal foals. The aims of this study were to describe a technique for ultrasonographic measurement of adrenal gland size to test its reliability in neonatal foals, and to assess any variation of ultrasonographic measurements during the first five days of life in healthy foals.

Methods First, measurements of the adrenal glands were retrospectively obtained by three observers in 26 adrenal gland images of 13 healthy and sick neonatal foals. The interobserver and intraobserver agreement were tested. Later, adrenal gland ultrasonographic images and measurements were acquired by one operator in 11 healthy neonatal foals at one, three and five days of life and differences among the measurements obtained at the different time points were assessed.

Results Interobserver agreement ranged from fair to excellent (0.48–0.92), except for cortex width (<0.4); intraobserver agreement ranged from good to excellent (0.52–0.98). No significant differences were found among the measurements obtained at one, three and five days of life.

Conclusion Adrenal glands ultrasonographic measurements can be obtained consistently in equine neonates, and in contrast to people they do not vary during the first five days of life in healthy foals.

  • adrenal gland
  • equine neonates
  • ultrasound
  • size
  • inter-observer
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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval All procedures on the animals were carried out with the approval of the Ethical Committee of the University of Bologna.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement The data set used for statistical analysis is available upon reasonable request.

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