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An emergency omphalectomy (egg yolk/yolk sac removal) procedure in an Emys (Emydoidea) blandingii (Blanding's turtle) Chris Tabaka, DVM

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Clemmys and Emydoidea Gallery

Emys Gallery

 

Copyright © 2003 World Chelonian Trust. All rights reserved


At times, the hatching process does not work as nature intended and veterinary intervention is required.  Such situations can include a variety of causes including accidental trauma to an egg to a severely infected yolk sac to a torn yolk sac during the hatching process to premature hatchings.  In such situations, it is sometimes necessary to perform an emergency procedure to try to save the animal.  The following is one such example.

 

During late August in 2003, while weeding an overgrown sandy area at the Detroit Zoo, a nest of eight Blanding's eggs was accidentally unearthed.  While seven of the eggs escaped damage and are finishing up their incubation in the reptile building of the institution, the eighth egg was completely torn open.  The neonate was fully formed but appeared to have about another week to go before it was fully ready to hatch.  The turtle was taken to the hospital where the following pictures were taken.

 

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As seen below, the neonate is extremely depressed, the shell is irrevocably torn, and the yolk sac is completely contaminated with debris.

 

 

The basis for this emergency procedure is to rapidly extricate the yolk sac from the coelomic cavity WITHOUT tearing it.  A torn yolk sac can result in allowing yolk, a fertile growth medium for bacteria, to escape into the animal's body cavity.   The longer the contaminated yolk sac and it's associated blood supply are pumping through the neonate, the greater the chances for sepsis and subsequent death so thus the need for speed yet precision.  Once fully extracted, the yolk sac needs to be tied off with sterile suture at it's base.

 

 

From there it can be incised with a sterile instrument or removed via electrosurgery to help cauterize the area.  The separated yolk sac can be seen below.

 

 

The final result is noted below.  A potentially septic premature hatchling with basically zero reserves in it's body for it's early growth and development.  However, with this procedure as well as appropriate antibiotic and nutritional support, we are at least able to give animals in this type of situation a fighting chance at life.

 

 


References:

 

Omphalectomy in a Galapagos Tortoise, Geochelone nigra spp.  Proc Assoc
Rept Amphib Vet; (1998); 1998; 0:99

 


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