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Friday, April 13, 2012

Gecko Boy Parts

Here's another fun case, and one that most vets wouldn't touch.  In fact, the owners had gone to or called several other vets before being referred to me because I work with exotic pets.  

They had a two year old leopard gecko that was generally in very good health.  They were doing everything they were supposed to do, which can't be said about all exotics owners.  A few days before coming in they had noted something swollen around its cloaca (the single urogenital opening for reptiles and birds).  They had done their research and had a good idea of what was going on.  I was able to quickly confirm their suspicions.  The gecko had prolapsed a hemipenis.

For those who don't know much about the anatomy and physiology of reptiles, let me break the story to give a quick lesson.  Unlike mammals reptiles have a single opening, the cloaca, where the urinary, digestive, and reproductive systems empty.  In males they have a hemipenis purely for reproduction that is outside of the cloaca.  Again unlike mammals, the penis has nothing to do with the urinary system.  And to make it even stranger, many reptiles have two of them, hence the name "hemi"-penis to refer to one of them.

In a situation like this where it had been prolapsed for several days, the only option is amputation.  The prolapsed organ becomes damaged and dried and will eventually become dead and infected.  Thankfully, amputating one hemipenis doesn't affect urination and even leaves the lizard able to reproduce since he still has another one.  Thankfully the owners agreed to the surgery.  Here are some pictures!

The red object in these pictures is the hemipenis.  In the middle one you can see a slight bump on the other side of the cloacal opening which is the non-prolapsed hemipenis.  Amputation is actually pretty simple.  Under anesthesia you ligate around the base of the organ and then cut it off.

In these pictures I have the hemipenis held with my forceps, making it look longer than in the first pictures.  The bottom picture is of me doing he actual amputation after having ligated it.  And here's the "after" picture.

He woke up well and was doing fine at his post-operative recheck.  I like seeing exotics because it gives me some variety in my day and allows me to see and do things that most other vets pass on.  It's fun for me and I get to provide a service to clients that may not have other places to go.