Case Study: A Tail and Two Stones

Feisty iguana post-surgery
This 14 year old female iguana was brought  into our clinic for suspected tail rot. In an older iguana, death of the tail tip is very concerning. No matter the underlying cause, the dead part of the tail had to be removed which meant surgery. Before that, we needed to figure out the cause of the tail death to prevent it from progressing further. This girl also has a history of bladder stones and upon examination our veterinarian also felt a hard mass in her belly that seemed to bother her.

To better evaluate the mass, x-rays were done and two new giant bladder stones were seen.

Radiograph reveals two large bladder stones in an iguana

Mammals need their bladders to survive but some reptiles can actually have their bladder removed safely if needed. These new large stones formed in just 3 years since her last surgery! Surgery becomes riskier the older an animal gets, so to prevent this from happening again we decided it was best to go ahead and surgically remove her bladder (cystectomy) along with the stones.

Radiograph of iguana tail showing intravertebral space.

X-rays of her tail allowed us to see tiny changes in her tailbone. The red arrow indicates a space that should not be there, indicating a weak point. She could have accidentally injured herself, but neither we nor her owners know exactly how it happened. Luckily, there was no evidence of cancer or infection seen so surgery should fix her problem! The green arrow indicates location of the amputation site, removing the damaged portion of tailbone as well as the necrotic tissue.

Iguana is getting prepped for surgery

Her bloodwork showed evidence of infection and/or inflammation, the rest was unremarkable so surgery was scheduled. We anesthetized, got her ready for surgery and removed her bladder, two huge stones, and tip of her tail between the vertebrae!

Intraoperative photo of bladder stone removal in an iguana Post-surgical iguana with beautiful incision

She won’t be making any more bladder stones at this point and we expect a full recovery!

One tail and two stones, removed
Exotic Vet Care Circle

About Us

Our exotic animal hospital is dedicated exclusively to the care of birds, exotic small mammals, reptiles, and even fish! We can offer everything your pet needs for a healthy and happy life, from wellness care and grooming to diagnostics and dentistry, but we can also provide emergency care during our opening hours, along with more specialized treatment for referred patients.