18 September 2013

Innovative surgical devices save inquisitive penguins

UK – Two important points to take away from veterinary surgeon Romain Pizzi's presentation at the recent 8th International Penguin Conference are: one, Edinburgh Zoo's penguins have a habit of swallowing things they shouldn't; and two, those penguins should be grateful for skilled vets and innovative surgical instruments.

Royal Zoological Society of Scotland vet Mr Pizzi, a pioneer in using minimally invasive surgery techniques, told the conference how he used instruments designed by Leeds-based company Surgical Innovations to carry out keyhole surgery on penguins who had swallowed foreign objects.

He said that gentoo penguins are very inquisitive, and over the years they had swallowed everything from sticks, twigs, stones, gloves, children’s socks, lollipop sticks, batteries and coins to a broken broom handle.

During his career Mr Pizzi has carried out several minimally invasive endoscopic surgical procedures in penguins and has made good use of Surgical Innovations' instruments, such as the PretzelFlex™, the world’s first pretzel-shaped organ retractor.

The PretzelFlex™ 3mm is part of the Ultra MIS (minimally invasive surgery) range, which is specially designed to allow surgeons and veterinary surgeons to perform operations through 3mm holes – wounds that heal rapidly.

Mr Pizzi said, "Minimally invasive techniques hold notable advantages over open surgery, including small wounds, rapid recovery, minimal post-operative pain, rapid healing and low rates of wound complications.

“These advantages also allow a more rapid return to water, important in aquatic animals such as penguins, whose natural behaviour is to spend much of their time swimming.

"I am pleased to say the penguins in question were fine and were able to get back into the water soon after surgery.”

Mr Pizzi also said that cutting-edge instruments like the PretzelFlex™ 3mm are "brilliant", and meant that operations that until recently were almost impossible could now be performed "especially in difficult patients such as penguins".

Graham Bowland, CEO of Surgical Innovations, said he was delighted that the company's laparoscopic instruments had helped Mr Pizzi in his operations on the animals at Edinburgh Zoo.

"Such operations help promote the zoo as a pioneering centre for wildlife and minimally invasive surgery and firmly establish minimally invasive surgery as a viable proposition for animals of all sizes, including penguins,” he said.

Surgical Innovations instruments used on penguins to remove swallowed items [press release], 16 September 2013, Surgical Innovations Group Plc

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