Common reptile surgical procedures: case reports (Proceedings)


Common reptile surgical procedures: case reports (Proceedings)

May 01, 2011

Reptile surgery can be very complicated. Luckily in this day & age of Reptile Medicine, we are afforded several options for anesthetic as well as surgical techniques. This lecture will present a few in order to give an overview of some of the current options available to the practitioner.

Diagnosis and treatment of aural abscesses in turtles:

Here we will discuss the diagnosis, etiologies, and techniques for treating aural abscesses in an Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata).


A female, approximately twelve year old, Ornate Box turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata), originally wild caught, kept in captivity for three years.

Presenting Complaint/History:

This turtle presented with slowly progressive swellings on both sides of the turtle's neck, puffiness to both eyes, periodic nasal discharge from both nares, along with decreased appetite and activity.

Physical Examination:

On presentation, the turtle appeared depressed, weak, and lethargic with significant bilateral aural swellings, mild bilateral blepharoedema, and mild mucopurulent nasal discharge.


      a. What's your diagnosis?
      b. What husbandry conditions are likely to have induced this disorder?
      c. How should it be treated?
      d. How can it be prevented?


Differentials for these clinical signs include the following: bilateral aural abscesses; hypovitaminosis A; upper/lower respiratory tract disease; other infectious; systemic disease; trauma; chemical or parasitic inflammation. While the exact cause of aural abscesses cannot be definitively stated, most appear to be the result of several predisposing factors. Commonly, affected reptiles are the victims of improper husbandry including chronic suboptimal temperatures and inadequate nutrition. This then results in immunosuppression with development of secondary opportunistic infections. Therefore to arrive at a diagnosis one must begin by taking a thorough history and doing a complete physical examination. Some level of systemic evaluation of the patient is also indicated, as ancillary diagnostic testing may provide important therapeutic and prognostic data.