Zoo plans eye surgery for sea lion

February 19, 2009 12:19:37 PM PST
Houston Zoo veterinarians, sea lion keepers and veterinary ophthalmology and anesthesia specialists are preparing for a delicate surgical procedure -- cataract removal surgery for Deano, the Zoo's 25 year old California sea lion. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

When Deano arrived at the Houston Zoo a year ago, he had an existing condition in his left eye. When the left lens detached, Deano's caretakers, Houston Zoo veterinarians and veterinary eye specialists began making plans for surgery. With the recent detachment of the lens in his right eye, the time table for Deano's surgery was moved up. The condition has caused Deano to become blind, but the expectation is that the surgery will be able to restore his sight.

Deano's cataract surgery will require general anesthesia. From the results of pre-operative exams and tests, Deano appears to be in good health. His advanced age presents risks and concerns for a surgical procedure necessary to improve his quality of life. Houston Zoo veterinarians, sea lion keepers and veterinary specialists have been preparing Deano for the procedure for several weeks.

Deano's pre-surgical preparation is similar to what a human patient might undergo prior to a surgical procedure -- preliminary blood work, an electrocardiogram (ECG), and visits to the Zoo clinic to familiarize him with the environment where the procedure will be performed as well as some of the anesthesia equipment that will be used.

Deano may need to be kept out of the water for up to three weeks following his surgery. During that period he will stay in the Cooley Animal Hospital and will not be on exhibit at the McGovern Mammal Marina during the recovery.

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