Charles J. Innis, VMD
Laparoscopic-assisted surgery is being used more frequently in veterinary medicine.2,3,6,8-12 For chelonians, laparoscopic procedures may reduce the need for more invasive surgical approaches such as plastron coeliotomy. A prefemoral surgical approach to the coelom has been reported in turtles, but in some species this approach may not provide adequate visualization for some procedures.1,4,5,7
Prefemoral coeliotomy was performed in six turtles for management of retained eggs, ectopic eggs, oviduct prolapse, or elective ovariectomy. Specimens included one Gulf Coast box turtle (Terrapene carolina major), two red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans), one eastern painted turtle (Chrysemys picta picta), one four-eyed turtle (Sacalia bealei), and one Chinese red-necked pond turtle (Chinemys kwangtungensis). Patients were positioned in dorsal recumbency. Laparoscopy provided excellent visualization, and laparoscopic instruments were used to identify and exteriorize ovaries, eggs, and oviducts. In four cases, bilateral ovariectomy was achieved through a unilateral approach. In two cases hemiovariosalpingectomy was performed due to unilateral oviduct damage, with the hope of maintaining future reproductive potential.7 Retained eggs were easily visualized and removed. In the box turtle, a large retrocoelomic granuloma was also visualized and resected. Unfortunately, this patient died 2 days postoperatively secondary to sepsis. Five specimens recovered uneventfully and were returned to their enclosures in 24 hours. Skin healing was complete in 6 weeks.
Selection of turtles for laparoscopic-assisted ovariectomy should be limited to females with mature, active ovaries. The ovarian pedicle of immature females generally does not have enough laxity to allow exteriorization. In these patients, a laparoscopic ovariectomy would be required.
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