Blog: Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Black Rhinoceros at Brookfield Zoo Undergoes Second CT Scan Following a Lifesaving Surgery

Layla Rhino CT Scan at Brookfield Zoo

Layla, a 7½-year-old eastern black rhinoceros at Brookfield Zoo underwent a second CT scan (computed tomography), a week after she received a lifesaving surgery performed by a dedicated team of Chicago Zoological Society veterinarians and veterinary specialists. The scan was done on a BodyTom®, the world’s first battery-powered portable CT. NeuroLogica, a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics, once again generously donated the use of the machine, which was operated by a physicist from Sound Technologies. Images taken today defined the extent of the remaining infection in her nasal passageway allowing veterinarians to proceed with another surgery, which took place immediately following the CT scan.

Layla initially began experiencing difficulty breathing in December 2017 and was diagnosed with obstructive sinusitis. Rhinos are obligate nasal breathers, meaning it is difficult for them to breathe comfortably through their mouth for long periods. Any sort of nasal obstruction can therefore become dangerous, and after failing to respond to standard medical treatments, Layla first underwent bilateral sinusotomy surgery at the zoo on January 29, 2018.

In the subsequent surgery on May 7, veterinarians were able to partially relieve an obstructive infection in Layla’s sinuses. The first groundbreaking CT was performed on April 19 and allowed the veterinary team to determine that an impacted, unerupted molar was the source of the problem. The CT scan also allowed veterinarians to establish the extent of the infection, which aided them in determining the best surgical approach for removing the infected tissue.

Layla Rhino CT Scan at Brookfield Zoo

Pre-surgical planning was greatly enhanced through the use of a 3D model and printouts donated by Vizua, a 3D software company; TeraRecon, a medical imaging software provider; and WhiteClouds, a 3D printing manufacturer. This advanced medical imaging is utilized in the human global healthcare market, but this is the first time it has been used to assist in a case for a rhinoceros. The 3D reconstruction was created using the images from the CT scan, which were then sent to a 3D printer that produced the detailed model. The model features a unique “hinge-and-slice” technique, giving veterinarians easy, fan-like visualization of the region of interest—the impacted molar and surrounding infected tissues.

CZS veterinarians have been working with Dr. Chris Downs, a veterinary surgeon from the Chicago Equine Medical Center, to manage Layla’s intensive medical care. For the recent procedure, Dr. Mike Lowder, a veterinary dentist from the University of Georgia with extensive experience in rhino dental care, provided support in removing the impacted tooth, while Drs. Anthony Blikslager and Mat Gerard from North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine provided additional surgical expertise. Drs. Blikslager and Gerard have gained their knowledge in the sinus anatomy of rhinos through their involvement in treating wild rhinos with substantial injuries to their heads resulting from poachers removing their horns.

Layla Rhino CT Scan at Brookfield Zoo

“To our knowledge, this type of surgery has never been performed on a rhinoceros before,” said Dr. Mike Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine for CZS. “We are very encouraged by how well Layla has tolerated the procedure. In the wild, this condition would have proved fatal, but we are very hopeful that with our advanced medical care we will be able to save Layla’s life. We are extremely grateful for our partnerships with everyone who has assisted with the surgery and CT scan to help create an optimal outcome for Layla.”

Posted: 5/16/2018 10:19:31 AM by Steve Pine

Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare

Read the latest exciting stories about how our experts are advancing the science of “animal-directed” care through innovative programs at Brookfield Zoo and global field efforts.


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