Treatment of Traumatic Shell Injuries in Sea Turtles
IAAAM 1994
Michael T. Walsh; Terry W. Campbell; Brendalee Phillips
Sea World of Florida, Orlando, FL

Traumatic shell injuries represent one of the more common reasons for presentation to the sea turtle stranding program at Sea World of Florida. These include injuries from propellers, blunt trauma from watercraft and injuries of unknown origin. Shell injuries may range from incidental to severe. Initial diagnostic techniques include physical exam, CBC, serum chemistries, and radiographs. If the turtle is lethargic, or thin, a blood glucose stix is used to check for hypoglycemia. Supportive treatment may include fluids, glucose, antibiotics and tube feeding. Wound therapy may include periodic debridement, flushing with beta-dyne solution, antibiotic ointment and bandaging. Maintenance of turtles with shell injuries for 2 plus years indicates that the use of acrylics and fiberglass is often counterproductive. Shell injuries benefit from periodic cleaning with removal of devitalized shell and debris. Fiberglass and acrylics not only trap and retain debris but impede the normal healing process. Alternative bandaging techniques may utilize shoe string to stabilize opposing shell fragments, instead of wire sutures, which impede wound cleaning. After each weekly to bi-weekly debridement the wound is coated with a petroleum based ointment and covered with Tegaderm which is super glued to the dry shell. This provides a water resistant bandage that will last for 1-4 weeks. Wound healing appears grossly similar to other species with initial granulation, epithelialization, invasion of pigment then calcification.

Speaker Information
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Michael T. Walsh, DVM
SeaWorld of Florida
Orlando, FL, USA

MAIN : Session VI : Traumatic Shell Injuries
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