Saturday, February 2, 2013

Amazing Healing of Bristol's Shell Fracture

Bristol was in poor condition when s/he arrived at the South Carolina Aquarium from the Bristol Marina in downtown Charleston. With an extremely low heart rate, carapace fractures, and several broken bones in the front flippers, staff thought it would be a long recovery. Supportive care stabilized the young green sea turtle and the shell wound was flushed and wrapped. Pain medication was also initiated.

In an effort to keep the wound sterile, the carapace around the fracture was cleaned.

Radiographs of Bristol- note the severe breaks in the right humerus and left radius and ulna.

Wounds were flushed well with saline.

Both front flippers were stabilized to limit movement and for the first time in the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital, with special thanks to Dr. Shane Woolf, a vacuum-assisted wound therapy was used on the shell fracture. By delivering negative pressure at the wound site using a special vacuum and wound dressings, infectious materials were removed from the injured site. The vacuum increases rate granulation tissue formation and speeds healing.

Front flippers were stabilized with cast-like materials.

A little over a month after admission, granulation tissue has formed across the wound.

In addition to this amazing wound vacuum therapy, Mrs. Jennifer Oliverio has offered her expertise to deliver cold laser therapy to our sick and injured sea turtles, including Bristol. This light-based therapy reduces pain and accelerates healing.

In only 2 1/2 months, the result of these therapies and the wonderful care given at the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital can be seen in the comparison photo below.

The shell fracture comparison of admission (11/13/12) to the current state is striking!

Although this animal has a while to go before the flipper bones are healed enough for release, we would like to send Dr. Shane Woolf and Dr. Jennifer Oliverio our most heartfelt thanks for their donations, both of equipment and time. It is with their help and the help of so many in our community and beyond that we are able to give to give these threatened and endangered species the best chances of survival.

With sincere appreciation,
Kelly Thorvalson
Sea Turtle Rescue Program Manager