Sea World, Texas A&M Vets Perform Spinal Tap Surgery on a Dolphin

Veterinarians at Sea World of Texas have participated in what is believed to be the first ever successful 'spinal tap' operation on a Dolphin, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The veterinarian staff at Sea World was assisted by doctors at the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine, who have pioneered this type of surgery on animals.

Rimmy is a 3 year old female bottlenose dolphin who became stranded at Sea Rim State Park near Port Arthur during Hurricane Harvey in September of 2017.

The Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network rescued Rimmy and treated her for 14 months at its facility in Galveston for multiple ailments suffered during the hurricane, including pneumonia and nasal parasites.That was when Sea World got involved in her care.

But before Rimmy could be returned to the Gulf, doctors had to rule out the possibility that she was suffering from a bacterial infection of the central nervous system, so the cerebrospinal fluid tap was required.

The first of its kind procedure was a success, and Rimmy has recovered completely.  She did not have the infection.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will now find an appropriate home for Rimmy to live her life.

“The expertise and creativity to devise new ways to treat marine animals is a testament to the extraordinary lengths our teams will go to preserve the life of every animal, “ said Dr. Steve Osborn, a senior veterinarian at SeaWorld San Antonio. “Working in collaboration with experts in the fields of neurology and anesthesia, we were able to successfully extract cerebrospinal fluid from a live cetacean for the very first time.”


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