Gross anatomy, histology and blood vessel topography of the alimentary canal of the Inland Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps)
Imaging techniques have proved to be crucial for diagnosis in reptile species. The topography of the internal organs of bearded dragons has been described in recent studies as meeting the small animal practitioners´ demand for knowledge concerning their anatomy. However, the nomenclature in the respective literature is not uniform, which could lead to misunderstandings concerning the respective and/or affected parts of the alimentary canal. Therefore, the aim of this study was to provide clear information on anatomy and histology of the alimentary canal of bearded dragons including supplying blood vessels. For the dissection of the alimentary canal, 11 Inland Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps) were used (five males, six females), which had been euthanised for clinical reasons other than those concerning the digestive tract or had died spontaneously. The supplying arteries were demonstrated by injecting red latex into the aorta, while the intestinal veins were filled with blue latex via the portal vein. Microscopic examination was carried out on specimens of seven additional bearded dragons using routine histologic procedures. Macroscopically, the sections of the alimentary canal from oral to aboral were distinguished into oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, colic ampulla, colic isthmus, rectum and cloaca. Differentiation of the duodenum, jejunum and ileum was only possible when considering the bile duct, the vasculature and the histology of the organ wall. Arteries supplying the oesophagus and the final straight part of the large intestine originated from the aorta in a segmental manner. Between these, three unpaired arteries arose from the aorta. Their branches supplied stomach and intestine excluding its last part. Based on the findings of the present study, a nomenclature for the different parts of the alimentary canal and the supplying blood vessels of bearded dragons is suggested which is well understandable for veterinary practitioners and is based on zoological knowledge of reptiles.