Mountain View Koi Club
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President's Message

Splash from Toad Mountain Park

By Verne Gilkes
April 8, 2013


Feb 5th 2013 was another eventful day in the life of the Mountain View Koi Club. It all started in October of 2012 when Honore and Verne were moving Honore's Koi from the summer pond to his inside holding pond for the winter. When Verne caught the 11 year old 22 inch Asagi he noticed it had what appeared to be the tell tales signs of a tumor starting to grow inside her.



On closer examinations it was rather apparent as there was a bulge on the right side and a small protrusion on the left side. It was suggested that sometime after Christmas Verne would approach Janet Lalonde a Mountain View KOI Club Member and a Veterinarian of small animals. Janet who already has experience of removing a tumor from one of her own koi in 2011 is asked if she would examine the koi and if she felt it was a tumour then perform the necessary surgery.

In January I contacted Janet and she agreed to examine the koi and if necessary perform the surgery on Honore's Koi. The date was set for Feb 5th 2013 at 1:00 P.M.

Now the koi was being housed in a pond in Honore's basement which was at outside temperatures so it was necessary for the koi to be brought inside to be warmed up for the pending operation. Honore had a 60 gallon aquarium set up in his basement for the pre op preparation and post op. On January 29th Verne transferred the Asagi from winter water into warm water. The koi was in excellent shape apart from the obvious signs of the tumor(s).

A twelve inch Kohaku was also brought up for company as koi cannot be kept by themselves. Several days of kind treatment of warm water and feeding prepared the koi for the operation table. All feeding was stopped on Feb. 2nd in preparation for the surgery. Honore had also salted the water to lessen the stress of being in a smaller container.

Feb 5th came around and Honore and Verne prepare to catch the Koi, he had settled into the warm tank and was not excited about being caught he went into the sock net like a pro. She is bagged and off they go to Janet's clinic. They arrive at about 12:15 start the set up in the clinic. Janet has cleared her afternoon in the event of a emergency with the operation. She examines the koi and in her professional opinion diagnosed the bulge as a tumour.

Paula has been prepared for the live filming of the operation and is on standby as they get underway.

The anesthetic is added to the warm water, the Asagi is caught and without any fussing she settles into a deep sleep as she flips over on her side in the tank.

The operation table has been prepared with the lid from the transport tank being used as the portable operation platform.

There is a heavy wet towel on the bottom to give the koi some support and comfort. A towel is wetted down to go over his gills and eyes. Honore is on standby with a bucket of water to keep this towel wet so her eyes don't dry out.

They give themselves a twenty minute window to do the operation as they don't want the fish coming to while still being stitched up.

Janet is gowned and capped and ready to go, some apprehension is evident, Verne holds the koi upright on its back and Janet takes the first set of scales off from the gut area. The scales are like armor plate and have to be removed as cutting through them would be impossible. The first incision is made, the flesh is tough but gives way to the scalpel, the incision is from just south of the Pelvic or ventral Fins to just north of the vent. Janet reaches into the gut area and can no doubt feel the tumor which is huge she frees the tumor from the body sack that has built up around it. The tumor is too big to be removed through the incision and Janet decides to enlarge the incision by cutting the Pelvic Bone. The pelvic bone is cut which was the only alternative to enlarging the opening big enough to extract the tumor, not a light decision at all.

All the while Honore has been keeping the towel covering the eyes and gills saturated with water. Verne has been periodically checking the eyes and movement is detected, giving signs of life. Janet is now able to manoeuvre the tumor into a position so she can extract it. The tumour is huge, the size of Verne's fist and appears like a tight cluster of grapes. Fortunately the tumor was not wrapped around any organs which allowed Janet to remove it cleanly. Had it been wrapped around any of the organs it would have meant sure death for the koi. This was one of Honore's first koi and no doubt a prize possession of his school.

They are now into about the 16th minute of this surgery and Janet is starting to stitch up the incision, the thread and needle is guided through the thick flesh with the expertise of many an operation. She gets right up to the Pelvic Bone where she has to switch to stainless steel wire which is a tough go but she gets it done, a couple of regular stitches are placed between the wire stitches and it is completed. The incision is swabbed with iodine and then Verne gets out their wound treatment salve, Debride, used to cover the wound, it is spread out smooth and covers all the incision. From the Moad Mountain First Aid Kit comes the Poly Grip which is spread over the wound making a wet band aid. The poly grip will form a water tight band aid for several hours allowing the salve to work its anti bacterial action. The koi is given one last treatment, a shot of Baytril for infection.

All the while Paula has been filming the Operation Room procedure on her "I Pad" and Joyce has been keeping them abreast of the time lapsed and left. They are at 27 minutes and 31 seconds as Verne places the koi back into the recovery tank of fresh water with an aerator running in it. The koi now has an obvious problem, she has a huge belly of air and cannot settle to the bottom of the tank, Janet uses a huge syringe and inserts it into the ceolomic cavity ( abdominal cavity) and sucks out two full syringes of air allowing the koi to sink into the water. The koi is put through the motion of artificial respiration and we can now see a slight ripple in the skin at the edge of her gill plates. She is placed near the air stone and within three to four minutes the gill plates are slowly starting to flutter and life slowly returns to the Asagi.

She begins to sit upright and they check her over and she appears to be coming around really well. They bag her for the trip back home. Arriving at Honore's she is transported to the aquarium and bag dropped into the tank. She gently slides out of the bag and settles to the bottom at her own speed and appears to be quite comfortable. Verne and Honore secure the privacy curtain back around the tank and they now let nature take its healing course. Honore continues to change the water on a daily basis making sure she has clean water at all times. Verne supplies a bottle of "melafix" to be added to the water which will also help with the healing process.

On the 5th day Verne suggest to Honore to crush some koi food into a powder and mix it with orange juice and vitamin C tablets making a paste. On the 9th day Honore starts a slow feeding program and hopefully she will start to nibble on some of the pea sized pieces that fall to the bottom. Day nine Verne pays a visit to the Asagi and everything appears to be progressing as well as could be expected, the sutures used are of absorbable thread which will be a blessing so they don't have to stress the koi out after such a short time. The Steele sutures will have to be removed in week 6 or 7. That gives a lot of healing time. This tumour, the size of Verne's fist, was probably starting to crush the koi's intestine which would have slowly started to cut off the function of processing food gradually starving the koi.

Day 21, three weeks after surgery Honore calls Verne with the good news, "the Asagi has started to eat". She is now feeding on the vitamin enriched food.

Once again Janet has completed another major surgery on a koi fish, certainly a new field for her profession and we thank her very much for assisting her fellow Koi Club members.