Wednesday, 11/2/11, Brady’s blood work came back and was bad. That, combined with his continued floating, caused Dr. Burkart and Christian to determine he needed to have a recheck at Roanoke Island Animal Clinic (RIAC). The decision on examination was he had air leakage into the body cavity thru a tear in the lung(s). Christian explained that a hard hit to the sea turtle’s body could cause a ligament or fibrous connection attached to the stomach, liver, peritoneum, or vertebral column to pull loose, leaving a tear through which the air the turtle breaths into his lungs would escape into the body cavity. With all his organs compressed by the air in his body cavity, Brady hadn’t been able to breathe IN much air, exhale, eat, digest, defecate, etc.
Dr. Burkart removed the air with a syringe (see photos below). In the large photo you are able to see the soft tissue areas directly above Brady’s back flippers. On the right you see the needle inserted, which has a tube attached to the syringe Dr. B is using to draw air out of the cavity. On the left you can see how “poofed out” the soft tissue above the flipper is. As the air is removed from the body cavity, the obvious happens…no more “poofing.” As soon as Brady takes a breath, there is a repetition of the air escape into the body cavity, compression of organs, etc.
Little Brady was immediately able to defecate. And who could predict that? Congrats, Christian, our sea turtle lady! We may want you more often in the Rehab facility when we’re feeding and changing the big loggerheads’ tanks. There is nothing like the odor and the nasty water when those kids … But we LOVE them. They come back here to give us the joy of helping their babies!
The tears usually heal without surgery. Until that happens Christian will monitor him and remove the air with a syringe whenever needed. He has had steroid and antibiotic injections and has returned to Rehab. If he is not appreciably improved by Monday, he will return to RIAC to be re-evaluated. Currently air is being removed by syringe every 6-8 hours.