Ovariohysterectomy and Management of Post-operative Incisional Complications in a Northern Sea Otter (Enhydra lutris)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2015

Sarah J. Wahlstrom1,2*, BA; Lesanna L. Lahner1, DVM, MPH; Alexander Aguila3, DVM, DACVS; Michael Garner4, DVM, DACVP

1Seattle Aquarium, Seattle, WA, USA; 2College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA; 3Animal Surgical Clinic of Seattle, Shoreline, WA, USA; 4NorthWest ZooPath, Monroe, WA, USA


An ovariohysterectomy (OVH) was performed on an adult northern sea otter (Enhydra lutris) housed at the Seattle Aquarium (Seattle, WA, USA) due to clinical signs supporting a pyometra. A white discharge had been noted from the vulva intermittently over a span of 10 days with cytology revealing septic neutrophilic inflammation. Enlarged fluid-filled uterine horns were visualized on abdominal ultrasound. The OVH surgery was highly vascular and complicated likely due to the otter’s multiparous history. The uterine walls were thick but normal on histopathology. The incision was closed with a four-layer closure, the standard for sea otter abdominal surgeries for radio-transmitter implantation (Murray, M. pers. comm.). The sea otter recovered uneventfully from surgery. However, within 1 mo post-operatively, there were signs of inflammation around the incision site that were determined histologically to be pyoderma. The animal was treated with oral antibiotics (Clavamox®, Zoetis, Florham Park, NJ, USA) deemed appropriate via culture and sensitivity with minimal reduction of inflammation. The suture site became more inflamed and was resected 3 mo post-initial surgery with a two-layer closure (subcutaneous and intradermal) of Monocryl® (Ethicon, Inc., Cincinnati, OH, USA). The resected incision site became inflamed in a similar manner and was successfully treated with oral prednisone. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first report of an OVH performed in a northern sea otter and related post- operative issues. Due to the level of complications observed, the authors advise caution against use of OVH as a method for routine contraception in captive sea otters.


The authors thank Dr. Michael Murray of the Monterey Bay Aquarium for his support and review of this project. The authors thank the staff of the Animal Surgical Clinic of Seattle and the Seattle Aquarium for their support of this project.


Speaker Information
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Sarah J. Wahlstrom, BA
Seattle Aquarium
Seattle, WA, USA

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