Eighth International Penguin Conference in Bristol hears about keyhole surgery on penguins from leading minimally invasive surgery vet.

Leading minimally invasive surgery (MIS) vet Romain Pizzi has revealed how he carried out keyhole surgery on penguins that swallow foreign objects.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) vet, a pioneer in using MIS techniques, spoke of the operations while presenting his work at the 8th International Penguin Conference in Bristol (September 2 to 6).

He added that Gentoo penguins are very inquisitive, and over the years have swallowed sticks, twigs, stones, gloves, children’s socks, lollipop sticks, a broken broom handle and coins.

Mr Pizzi has carried out several minimally invasive endoscopic surgical procedures in penguins; for many of which he was able to use Surgical Innovation’s instruments such as the PretzelFlex, the world’s first pretzel-shaped organ retractor.

The PretzelFlex 3mm is part of the company’s Ultra MIS range, designed to allow surgeons and vets to perform operations through 3mm incisions.

Speaking at the congress, Mr Pizzi said: “Minimally invasive techniques hold notable advantages over open surgery, including small wounds, rapid recovery, minimal postoperative pain, rapid healing and low rates of wound complications.

“New cutting edge instruments such as the 3mm PretzelFlex are brilliant and allow operations to be performed that were pretty much impossible until recently, especially in difficult patients such as penguins.

“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.

“Endoscopy provides magnified visualisation of organs as well, as some anatomic regions are difficult to adequately visualise in open surgery. I am pleased to say the penguins were fine and able to get back into the water soon after surgery.”

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