Thursday, May 23, 2013
Alaska Zoo Tiger’s Tricky Root Canal
Nobody likes having a toothache but for most of us that means a simple trip to the dentist. But what if the patient is a 400-pound tiger in need of a root canal?
Nobody likes having a toothache but for most of us that means a simple trip to the dentist.
But what if the patient is not so portable? What if the patient weighs 400 pounds and happens to be tiger at the Alaska Zoo who needs a root canal?
The tiger named Kunali broke his tooth several years ago and somewhere along the line it became infected. The zoo decided to put off surgery until they assembled a proper team to perform it.
Endodontist Doug Luiten is from Anchorage and usually operates on people, but got talked in to performing the procedure after the zoo installed a special operating table that could lift big cats.
A visiting anesthesiologist, David Brunson, assisted Luiten. Brunson has worked all over the country helping put big animals to sleep.
“The biggest challenge is that the tiger, because it is a big carnivore, has the potential of harming us,” says Brunson. “Also the drugs we use are very powerful drugs so the drugs could harm the tiger.”
But in this case all went smoothly. Once Kunali was sedated, the root canal took about an hour and a half to complete. Zoo vet Riley Wilson says the tiger slept like a baby through it all.
“And he just fell asleep within five minutes and we hauled him up on the big stretcher and put him on the gas, and I don't think he really ever knew what happened.”
Wilson says Kunali is expected to make a full recovery and should be a feline who is feeling fine in the very near future.