Vet cuts hole in tortoise’s shell to carry out life-saving surgery


A VET cut a hole in a tortoise’s shell to enable life-saving surgery to take place.

The tortoise, Flash, belongs to a Warrington couple and the complex surgery was to remove the reptile’s ovaries after she developed a life-threatening condition.

The operation involved cutting a hole in the tortoise’s shell – and later sealing it up again using dental acrylic!
Vet surgeon Dr Molly Varga Smith gave “Flash” a thorough examination when her concerned owners took the poorly 13-year-old reptile to Rutland House Veterinary Hospital in St Helens.
X-ray and ultrasound scans confirmed that the Red-footed tortoise had follicular stasis, a condition where undeveloped eggs remain in the body which could have made her gravely ill if not treated.

Dr Varga Smith leads the department dedicated to looking after exotic species at Rutland House Vets and carried out surgery to spay Flash who had also suffered from follicular stasis two years before. The delicate operation involved carefully cutting an access hole in Flash’s lower shell with a saw and surgically removing the follicles and her ovaries. Flash’s shell was secured back into place with dental acrylic – the material used to create dentures – which will stay in place for several years.
Flash quickly settled back at home in Warrington with owners Pete and Janice Faulkner who have praised the team for their treatment and aftercare.
Rutland House Vets is now urging other tortoise owners to keep a close eye on their pet’s activities. Symptoms of follicular stasis in reptiles include a lack of appetite and fatigue.

Pictured: Pete and Janice Faulkner, from Warrington, with Flash at Rutland House Vets with registered vet nurses Gemma Birchall and Craig Tessyman, and vet Dr Molly Varga Smith.



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