A medical field trip for turtle #67

We are now in the midst of rehabilitating endangered sea turtles that washed up on Cape Cod beaches this fall, incapacitated with hypothermia and other ailments. 
  • This year beach walkers rescued nearly 90 turtles. 
  • The turtles were treated at the Aquarium's Animal Care Center in Quincy, Mass., and many were moved to partnering rescue facilities to make room for more patients. 
  • Right now there are more than 40 turtles treatment at the Aquarium's facilities—mostly Kemp's ridley sea turtles and some loggerhead and green sea turtles. 
This post follows one turtle on a special trip for advanced medical imaging.

Recently one of our turtles, #067 a.k.a. Kaboom, underwent a CT scan procedure at the Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital in Woburn, MA.

#067 getting secured for his CT scan procedure, as personnel is not allowed in the room
to hold the turtle while the scan is being performed.

#067 is a juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle who is currently our most critical patient. While other sea turtles under our care are actively swimming, diving and gaining weight, #067 up until the beginning of this week was spending most of its time floating at the surface, not showing much of any kind of activity. Only recently he started diving and swimming and looking more “like a turtle”.

#067 ready for his procedure. You can see the red lines on his head and body, which are used to make
sure the patient is aligned correctly for the scan.

His appetite has also been very poor and this turtle only eats shrimp, which is low in calories and not very nutritious. Even though our Animal Health Department has some pretty advanced diagnostic techniques available to us, sometimes we have to rely on other animal hospitals with state of the art diagnostic equipment to help us better understand why our patients are not improving.

This is the view from the computer station that controls the CT machine into the CT room. 
You can see #067 on the table in the distance. The scan is in progress.

The CT scan confirmed that #067 has severe pneumonia, but the radiologist has not seen anything else in the turtle’s body that would explain his lack of improvement. #067 will remain on antibiotics and we will continue to monitor his blood values and lung x-rays to see if there is a change.

One of the CT images showing areas of consolidated, diseased, tissue in the right lung indicated by red arrows.

If it’s deemed necessary, our veterinary staff might also perform a lung biopsy to further analyze what kind of bacteria are causing the pneumonia. Thanks to the CT images, we will be able to target the bad, or diseased, tissue areas for the biopsy. The turtle will most likely get another CT scan in a month as well.

MVRH veterinary radiologist, Dr. Tonya Tromblee, and Dr. Charlie Innis, 
New England Aquarium veterinarian, analyzing the CT scan images.

We've visited the Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital before. See how these excellent facilities and caregivers have helped rescued sea turtles before!

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