Surgical management of egg-binding in a red-eared slider turtle

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Dystocia, often referred to as egg-binding in oviparous animals, is a common medical problem in captive reptiles. It is often caused by inappropriate husbandry such as lack of an appropriate nesting site, poor nutrition, poor body condition or disease. Dystocia can also be due to obstructive causes such as large or malformed eggs, a misshapen pelvis, or a coelomic mass pressing on the oviduct. Diagnosis of egg-binding can be difficult since gestation periods in reptiles, even within the same species, can be variable and the presence of eggs within in the coelomic cavity is not necessarily abnormal. Radiographs can confirm the presence of eggs, and may reveal an obstruction such as deformed or oversized eggs. Incomplete oviposition or straining without successful oviposition are highly indicative of egg-binding. Egg-bound reptiles can also present with general signs of illness. If gravid reptiles are not showing any clinical signs of dystocia and no obvious obstructions are present, history, physical exam, and other diagnostics such as blood work may aid in the diagnosis. Treatment for dystocia can be medical or surgical. Medical treatment includes hormone therapy with oxytocin, physical manipulation of eggs in the caudal oviduct and cloaca and ovocentesis. Medical treatment should not be used in cases where dystocia is due to an obstructive cause. Physical manipulation and ovocentesis may be difficult in chelonians due to their shell, however, oxytocin is usually successful in inducing oviposition in these species with greater than 90% efficacy. Due to the success of oxytocin in chelonians surgery is rarely needed, however, when surgery is indicated, the presence of the shell makes access to the coelomic cavity more difficult than in other species. Surgical access to the coelomic cavity in chelonians has traditionally been achieved with a plastron osteotomy. A soft tissue surgery through the pre-femoral fossa has been used as an alternative approach as reported in several studies and case reports. The purpose of this case study is to discuss treatment of egg-binding in chelonians with emphasis on surgical management.

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Senior seminar series
Seminar SF610.1 2008 S65

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Turtles -- Reproduction -- Case studies; Turtles -- Surgery -- Case studies


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