Anaconda Undergoes MRI

Thursday, July 12, 2007

You don't get much more exotic than a 6 and a half foot yellow anaconda. His name is Sir Mix a Lot... and he's the first patient to undergo radiation treatment in the Penn Veterinary Hospital's new facility.

Sir Mix-a-lot arrived at Penn's Rosenthal Imaging and Treatment Center today in a big plastic box. He's been a fixture at the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington for 27 years. "He's been quite a draw to the zoo, because everyone thinks, 'Ohhhh, anaconda.' So he's special to us," said Leslie Brennan.

Now, a cancerous tumor on his tail section is threatening Sir Mix-a-lot's life, and because its near some vital structures, this snake is not a candidate for surgery.

Karen Rosenthal, DVM of Penn Veterinary Medicine tells us, "What we are hoping to do is shrink this thing down, get rid of any pain he might have. And at least he can live a few more years."

The veterinary team hopes Sir Mix-a-lot will be able to go through radiation therapy with just some sedation. But he's not slowing down as much as they'd like. So they put the anaconda under general anesthesia, and he goes in for the first-ever magnetic resonance imaging of a snake, with a breathing tube in his mouth.

The MRI clearly maps out the tumor's width and depth; a radiation oncologist figures out just how big a radiation dose the snake from the linear accelerator.

Rosenthal says, "This machine we have now is light years ahead of what we had before, because its stronger, he'll need less time under the machine and hopefully less risk to him.

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