TopClosure System Adapted to Chelonian Shell Repair

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Abstract

Chelonians suffering from traumatic shell fractures sustained from animal bites, car accidents, or rare accidents pertaining to illegal captivity (e.g., lawn mowers and electric shutters) are often seen at the Israeli Wildlife Hospital (IWH) in Ramat Gan, Israel. As shell fracture repair can be time consuming and difficult, often involving an extended healing period of a few months to >1 year, a successful repair process requires a reliable procedure that provides structural integrity. Veterinarians at the IWH have found that the TopClosure System (TCS) is a durable yet simple and inexpensive external fixation device that can easily be secured to fractured chelonian shells with dental acrylic adhesive. The TCS may be used noninvasively to stabilize shell fractures, while still enabling the use of conventional local treatment. The TCS repair technique was administered in the IWH for treatment of 7 chelonians: 3 Spur-thighed tortoises (Testudo graeca) and 4 Caspian turtles (Mauremys caspica), which were later released into their native environments. The TCS, a novel effective device originally designed for human soft tissue stretching, has successfully been used to mend chelonian shell fractures, while eliminating internal tissue damage and reducing any risk of infection.

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