Objective: To noninvasively evaluate physiologic postprandial adaptations of the heart in snakes.
Animals: 6 juvenile Paraguay anacondas (Eunectes notaeus).
Procedures: The heart of each anaconda was echocardiographically evaluated after food was withheld for 28 days as well as 3 and 10 days after feeding. Physical measurements included body length, weight, and circumference at the level of the heart. Echocardiographic measurements included heart rate and 2-D total and internal ventricular area. From these measurements, total ventricular volume as well as the myocardial area as a surrogate of myocardial mass was calculated.
Results: No significant changes in body length, weight, and circumference were found. Significant increases in heart rate (from 45 to 58 beats/min), total ventricular volume (from 4.63 to 5.54 mL), and myocardial area (from 0.7 to 0.81 cm(2)) were detected 10 days after feeding, compared with results obtained prior to feeding after food had been withheld for 28 days. No pericardial effusion was detected at any time point.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Echocardiographic evaluation of the heart of anacondas was performed, and feeding resulted in concentric cardiac hypertrophy. Physiologic fluctuation of cardiac dimensions should be considered when cardiac imaging is performed in snakes.