Evaluation of Surgical Techniques and Internal Sonic Transmitter Implantation in Sturgeon (Acipenseridae)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2010
Shaun Boone1,2, DVM; Stephen J. Divers1, DZooMed, DACZM, DECZM (Herpetology), FRCVS; Sonia M. Hernandez2, DVM, PhD, DACZM
1College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA; 2Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA


Surgical methods used for transmitter implantation should be carefully evaluated to determine their effect on fish.1,2 In this study, 120 Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii) were randomly assigned to four treatment groups. Each group was assigned a different suture material for coeliotomy closure: antibacterial poliglecaprone 25, poliglecaprone 25, polyglactin 910, and polypropylene. Fifteen fish in each treatment group also received an intracoelomic sonic transmitter. Thirty fish were subjected to the same handling procedures, but did not undergo surgery. To evaluate healing, five fish from each group were euthanatized and subjected to necropsy and histologic examination of the incision site at 1, 2, and 8 wk post surgery. Preliminary results indicate that significant healing occurred by 8 wk at 12.5°C. Inversion of the incision was evident at 2 wk, and may be a result of the simple interrupted suture pattern or healing in this species. Varying degrees of erythema occurred during the initial 12 wk in all groups. Polypropylene exhibited expected retention, but both polyglactin 910 and polypropylene groups also exhibited suture retention up to 12 wk. The polyglactin 910 group suffered from higher rates of suture loss and dehiscence throughout the initial 8 wk, and signs of abnormal healing were still evident at 12 wk. Twenty-five percent of the transmitters were expelled predominately through the vent up to 12 wk after surgery. Our data indicates that either antibacterial poliglecaprone 25 or poliglecaprone 25 appears more appropriate for skin closure in the Siberian sturgeon, and intracoelomic transmitter expulsion appears more frequent than previously reported.3-9


The authors would like to thank the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for making this research project possible.

Literature Cited

1.  Bridger, C.J., and R.K. Booth. 2003. The Effects of Biotelemetry Transmitter Presence and Attachment Procedures on Fish Physiology and Behavior. Reviews in Fisheries Science 11: 13.

2.  Cooke, S.J., B.D.S. Graeb, C.D. Suski, and K.G. Ostrand. 2003. Effects of suture material on incision healing, growth and survival of juvenile largemouth bass implanted with miniature radio transmitters: case study of a novice and experienced fish surgeon. Journal of Fish Biology. 62: 1366.

3.  Collins, M.R., D.W. Cooke, T.I.J. Smith, W.C. Post, D.C. Russ, and D.C. Walling. 2002. Evaluation of four methods of transmitter attachment on shortnose sturgeon, Acipenser brevirostrum. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 18: 491–494.

4.  Fabrizio, M.C., and J.P. Pessutti. 2007. Long-term effects and recovery from surgical implantation of dummy transmitters in two marine fishes. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 351: 243–254.

5.  Hall, J.E., J. Chamberlin, A.N. Kagley, C. Greene, and K.L. Fresh. 2009. Effects of gastric and surgical insertions of dummy ultrasonic transmitters on juvenile chinook salmon in seawater. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 138: 52–57.

6.  Jadot, C. 2003. Comparison of two tagging techniques for Sarpa salpa: external attachment and intraperitoneal implantation. Oceanologica Acta. 26: 497–501.

7.  Jepsen, N., J.S. Mikkelsen, and A. Koed. 2008. Effects of tag and suture type on survival and growth of brown trout with surgically implanted telemetry tags in the wild. Journal of Fish Biology. 72: 594–602.

8.  Martinelli, T., H. Hansel, and R. Shively. 1998. Growth and physiological responses to surgical and gastric radio transmitter implantation techniques in subyearling chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Hydrobiologia 371–372: 79–87.

9.  Neely, B.C., K.D. Steffensen, and M.A. Pegg. 2009. A comparison of gastrically and surgically implanted telemetry transmitters in shovelnose sturgeon. Fisheries Management & Ecology. 16: 323–328.


Speaker Information
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Shaun Boone, DVM
College of Veterinary Medicine
Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study
University of Georgia
Athens, GA, USA

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