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Laparoscopic gastropexy for correction of a hiatal hernia in a northern elephant seal (mirounga angustirostris)

Greene, Rebecca, Van Bonn, William G., Dennison, Sophie E., Greig, Denise J., Gulland, Frances M. D.
Journal of zoo and wildlife medicine 2015 v.46 no.2 pp. 414-416
Mirounga angustirostris, anesthesia, antagonists, diaphragm, drug therapy, endoscopy, females, gastric fundus, gastroesophageal reflux, hernia, hiatal hernia, malnutrition, pups, radiography, seals, sedation, thorax
A female northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) weaned pup presented with malnutrition. During rehabilitation, the seal developed regurgitation and reduced lung sounds on auscultation. Radiographs and endoscopy performed under sedation suggested a diaphragmatic hernia. A Type I (or sliding) hiatal hernia was confirmed with a positive contrast upper gastrointestinal study, revealing varying degrees of herniation of the gastric fundus through the diaphragm into the caudal thorax as well as esophageal reflux. The animal was treated preoperatively with an H2 antagonist and antinausea medication. A laparoscopic gastropexy was performed under general anesthesia. The animal recovered well postoperatively and resolution of clinical signs was achieved. The animal was released back into the wild 21 kg above admit weight. To our knowledge, we report here the first surgical correction of a hiatal hernia in a marine mammal.