Objective - To evaluate bronchial morphology endoscopically in rabbits and develop a valid nomenclature for the endobronchial branching pattern. Animals - 10 mature New Zealand White rabbits. Procedures - Flexible bronchoscopy was performed in rabbits anesthetized with isoflurane via nasal mask. Airways were systematically evaluated from the larynx to the terminal branches accessible with a 2.5-mm-outer diameter flexible endoscope. Airway branching patterns were identified and assessed for variation among subjects. Results - Airways of all rabbits were readily examined with the 2.5-mm flexible endoscope. Laryngeal structure and function were normal in each rabbit, and airway branching patterns in all rabbits evaluated were identical. At the carina, branching into left and right principal bronchi was evident. The left principal bronchus divided immediately into the left cranial and left caudal lobar bronchi. The left cranial lobe bronchus further divided into dorsal and ventral segmental bronchi. The left caudal lobe bronchus gave rise to branches originating dorsally, ventrally, and medially before continuing caudally. The right principal bronchus divided into the right cranial, right middle, and accessory lobar bronchi and continued distally as the right caudal lobar bronchus. The right cranial lobe bronchus also divided into dorsal and ventral segmental bronchi, and the right caudal lobe bronchus had branches that originated dorsally, ventrally, and medially. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - Definition of a standard nomenclature for airway branching in rabbits will allow precise localization of disease in clinical cases and accurate collection of airway samples in clinical and scientific evaluations.
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