Welcome to the Surgical Suite!
The surgical suite is located within the Treatment Room of the GSTC. This room may be used for surgeries, as well as for other types of medical procedures. It also serves as a storage space for many pieces of surgical equipment.
Many things are found in the surgical suite that help treat our patients:
As you can imagine, a turtle’s shell can make it difficult to visualize and access internal injuries and organs. Endoscopy and laparoscopy are two techniques that help our veterinary staff overcome this difficulty. Endoscopy involves the use of a small camera to examine and treat an animal’s esophagus or colon. Laparoscopy works similarly, but involves the camera being inserted into a small incision in the body cavity, rather than in the mouth or cloaca. This allows staff to view and biopsy internal organs like the kidneys and liver.
Surgery table (heated)
Reptiles are ectotherms, meaning their body temperature is determined by the temperature of their environment. Maintaining an appropriate body temperature for patients can be an essential part of surgical procedures. The surgical suite is equipped with a heated table that can be adjusted to meet the needs of the patient. A protective covering, such as a blanket or towel, is placed between the table and the patient in order to prevent overheating and burns.
This device provides another means of keeping reptile patients warm during surgery. A machine produces heated air, which is directed to flow into an inflatable blanket. This blanket can be draped over a patient undergoing surgery, helping veterinary staff to ensure that the animal maintains an appropriate temperature throughout the procedure.
Many patients arrive in the hospital with serious wounds from boat or car-related accidents. Wound Vacuum Assisted Closure® (V.A.C.) therapy helps reduce recovery time in these injuries by providing an ideal environment for healing within those wounds. The Wound V.A.C.® device attaches to a patient via a long hose, which is sealed over a wound using a sponge and air-tight Tegaderm dressing. Suction from the device generates negative pressure that helps pull out infectious material, as well as stimulates healthy blood flood to the healing tissue. The GSTC is fortunate to have two Wound V.A.C.® devices on permanent loan to us from KCI Medical, thanks KCI!
Some surgical procedures require a patient to be put under anesthesia in order to minimize pain and stress. At the GSTC we have anesthesia equipment designed for both large and small animals, helping us to treat patients ranging from small diamondback terrapins to large, adult loggerhead sea turtles!
Maintaining sanitary equipment is important for patient health and safety. An ultrasonic sterilizer uses vibrations from sound waves to help remove debris from surgical instruments. An autoclave uses heat and pressure to destroy harmful pathogens on surgical equipment. The GSTC also has a gas sterilizer that chemically cleans tools and instruments.
At the GSTC, we’re fortunate to be able to utilize a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser for surgical procedures. This innovative tool is commonly used to remove external Fibropapilloma tumors, but can also be useful for small amputations. Patients treated via laser typically experience reduced bleeding during the procedure, as well as reduced healing time while in post-operative rehab.
Although it provides a great protective covering, the sea turtle shell can make it difficult to determine an animal’s heart rate. At the GSTC, we use a doppler ultrasound to overcome this difficulty. This device uses high frequency sound waves to detect the changing speed of blood moving through a patient’s heart. It translates this information into a sound pattern played from speakers on the machine. To our ears, the turtle’s heartbeat sounds like a repeating whoosh. An animal’s heart rate is determined by counting the total number of whooshes produces by the doppler in a minute’s time. Click here to listen to what it sounds like!