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Emergency care

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Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to provide a brief review of first aid techniques in reptiles and to outline the most important physiological conditions that need to be considered when presented with a reptile emergency. The essential points for the work-up of typical emergency situations are also considered.

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Figures

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7.2 Intermittent positive pressure ventilation (IPPV) using a small animal ventilator in a bearded dragon. These devices can also be used in combination with 100% oxygen, as they provide forced ventilation of the lung.
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7.3 Infusion pumps can be used to slowly administer volumes up to 60 ml. Besides the intravenous or the intraosseous route, they can also be used with a needle placed subcutaneously in debilitated patients.
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7.4 Emaciated mountain-horned dragon. Although the underlying disease is a chronic process, these patients are often presented in an emergency situation.
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7.5 Oedema in a Chinese pond turtle, caused by renal insufficiency.
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7.6 Septicaemia in a Russian tortoise.
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7.7 Russian tortoise hit by a car. The clinical signs are evident; however, some anamnestic information is still necessary to evaluate the reptile’s individual situation.
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7.8 Severe stomatitis in a Burmese python. This condition is often seen with pneumonia or intestinal disease.
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7.9 Positioning of the Doppler flowmeter in a bearded dragon. The device can be used easily to assess the heartbeat frequency in reptiles.
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7.10 Tracheal wash being performed in a Burmese python. The material removed can be examined for the presence of infectious agents and inflammatory cells (see Figure 7.15 ).
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7.11 Subcutaneous fluid administration in a Burmese python. In debilitated reptiles, the subcutaneous route can also be used for constant infusions, e.g. using an infusion pump.
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7.12 Fluid administration into the coelomic cavity in a tortoise. The tortoise needs to be held in an upside-down position to avoid puncture of the inner organs. Although this method provides rapid fluid resorption via the coelomic membranes, it is only suitable as long as there are no palpable masses in the femoral area.
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7.13 (a) Placement of an intraosseous catheter into the tibia of a bearded dragon. (b) A radiographic image to ensure correct placement.
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7.14 Ultrasound-guided puncture of the heart in a boa constrictor. Cardiac injection can deliver fluids and drugs into the circulatory system, but fluid accumulation in the pericardium can occur. There is acoustic reflexion due to the needle position (arrowed).
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7.15 Tracheal wash sample from a Burmese python suffering from pneumonia, demonstrating bacteria as well as inflammatory cells. (Courtesy of Dr. V Schmidt, Leipzig)
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7.16 Ultrasonogram of a tortoise, demonstrating a massively filled urinary bladder. A needle can be used to quickly remove fluid if this is impacting on respiration as a fluid-filled viscus.
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7.17 Computed tomography (CT) 3D-recontruction of a shell fracture in a turtle. CT is extremely helpful when planning surgical intervention in these cases.
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7.18 Gastric feeding tube in a Hermann’s tortoise.

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