Nine Lives Vets

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Tortoise Surgery Cases

This page is dedicated to surgical and anaesthetic techniques in Chelonia. We have tried to include as much detail as possible to help guide other vets and nurses when considering tortoise surgery.

Bertie - Exploratory Coelomotomy

Bertie a >70 year old female Testudo gracea (Spur Thigh tortoise) showed anorexia and depression for 12 months, with very high blood calcium.

Ultrasonography showed multiple static ovarian follicles confirming suspicions of follicular stasis. 

Attempts at medical management did not improve her condition - she was fed through an oesophagostomy tube daily and human chorionic gonadotrophin (hcg) injections did not stimulate ovulation.


  • Pre-Medication:   2mg/Kg Butorphanol with 20 mg/Kg ketamine
  • Antibiotic:             20 mg/Kg amoxycillin SC SID
  • Fluids:                  20mls/Kg daily - combination of PO, IC and SC
  • Analgesia:           5mg/Kg tramadol injection, every 12 hours
  • GA:                      9 mg/Kg Alfaxan subcarapacial sinus
  • Maintenance:       sevoflurane, size 2 ET tube. 
  • IPPV:                   1 breath every 15 seconds, manual T-piece


  • Dremel cut in full square, with continuous saline lavage to remove debris and for cooling. Extracted section kept in warmed hartmans wrapped in gauze swabs until returned to position later. Used no. 15 scalpel for last sections combined with an oesteotome to gently lift up the shell, pushing the attached tissues off the shell using blunt dissection.
  • Careful Incision through the peritoneal membrane
  • Ovarian follicle bundle lifted gently, ligated with 3 metric vicryl
  • Peritoneal membrane closed with vicryl
  • Flap recess filled with sterile intracite - to protect the peritoneum and vascular shell from the adhesive
  • Flap sealed with Techovit hoof adhesive