Open Access Methodology article

Experimental Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae challenge in swine: Comparison of computed tomographic and radiographic findings during disease

Carsten Brauer1*, Isabel Hennig-Pauka1, Doris Hoeltig1, Falk FR Buettner2, Martin Beyerbach3, Hagen Gasse4, Gerald-F Gerlach5 and Karl-H Waldmann1

Author Affiliations

1 Clinic for Swine and Small Ruminants, Forensic Medicine and Ambulatory Services, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Bischofsholer Damm 15, D-30173, Hannover, Germany

2 Institute for Cellular Chemistry, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg Strasse 1, D-30625, Hannover, Germany

3 Department of Biometry, Epidemiology, and Information Processing, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Bünteweg 2, D-30559, Hannover, Germany

4 Institute of Anatomy, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Bischofsholer Damm 15, D-30173, Hannover, Germany

5 Institute of Microbiology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Bischofsholer Damm 15, D-30173, Hannover, Germany

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BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:47  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-47

Published: 30 April 2012



In pigs, diseases of the respiratory tract like pleuropneumonia due to Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (App) infection have led to high economic losses for decades. Further research on disease pathogenesis, pathogen-host-interactions and new prophylactic and therapeutic approaches are needed. In most studies, a large number of experimental animals are required to assess lung alterations at different stages of the disease. In order to reduce the required number of animals but nevertheless gather information on the nature and extent of lung alterations in living pigs, a computed tomographic scoring system for quantifying gross pathological findings was developed. In this study, five healthy pigs served as control animals while 24 pigs were infected with App, the causative agent of pleuropneumonia in pigs, in an established model for respiratory tract disease.


Computed tomographic (CT) findings during the course of App challenge were verified by radiological imaging, clinical, serological, gross pathology and histological examinations. Findings from clinical examinations and both CT and radiological imaging, were recorded on day 7 and day 21 after challenge. Clinical signs after experimental App challenge were indicative of acute to chronic disease. Lung CT findings of infected pigs comprised ground-glass opacities and consolidation. On day 7 and 21 the clinical scores significantly correlated with the scores of both imaging techniques. At day 21, significant correlations were found between clinical scores, CT scores and lung lesion scores. In 19 out of 22 challenged pigs the determined disease grades (not affected, slightly affected, moderately affected, severely affected) from CT and gross pathological examination were in accordance. Disease classification by radiography and gross pathology agreed in 11 out of 24 pigs.


High-resolution, high-contrast CT examination with no overlapping of organs is superior to radiography in the assessment of pneumonic lung lesions after App challenge. The new CT scoring system allows for quantification of gross pathological lung alterations in living pigs. However, computed tomographic findings are not informative of the etiology of respiratory disease.