Nine adult Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus) previously rescued from illegal bile farming in Vietnam were examined via abdominal ultrasound and exploratory laparoscopy for liver and gall bladder pathology. Three bears demonstrated notable gall bladder pathology, and minimally invasive cholecystectomies were performed using an open laparoscopic access approach, standard 10 to 12 mmHg carbon dioxide pneumoperitoneum and a four-port technique. A single bear required insertion of an additional 5 mm port and use of a flexible liver retractor due to the presence of extensive adhesions between the gall bladder and quadrate and left and right medial liver lobes. The cystic duct was dissected free and this and the cystic artery were ligated by means of extracorporeal tied Meltzer knot sutures. The gall bladder was dissected free of the liver by blunt and sharp dissection, aided by 3.8 MHz monopolar radiosurgery. Bears that have had open abdominal cholecystectomies are reported as taking four to six weeks before a return to normal activity postoperatively. In contrast, these bears demonstrated rapid unremarkable healing, and were allowed unrestricted access to outside enclosures to climb trees, swim and interact normally with other bears within seven days of surgery.
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J. Cracknell is also at Free The Bears Fund, Mekong Delta Bear Sanctuary, Near Rach Gia, Vietnam and Longleat Safari and Adventure Park, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW, UK
Provenance not commissioned; externally peer reviewed