Could a fish survive brain surgery?

George, a 10-year-old goldfish from Australia, made headlines this week after surviving a ‘high-risk’ brain tumor removal operation. George’s owner decided to go through with the £125 operation when her vet gave her the choice between agreeing to the procedure or having the fish put to sleep. Dr Tristan Rich, who removed the life-threatening tumour, described the 45-minute operation as “fiddly”, but adds the fish is now likely to live for another 20 years. How did the operation work? Dr Rich set up three buckets – one with a knockout dose of anesthetic, one with a smaller dose to maintain the anesthetic during the operation, and one with clean water to ensure a swift recovery. Once George was under the anesthetic, Dr Rich passed a tube from the maintenance bucket, which was pumped with oxygen, over the fish’s gills. He then worked rapidly to slice away the large tumour, using a gelatin sponge to soak up the bleeding from the procedure. The large gaping wound proved difficult to seal, so Dr Tristan put in four stiches then sealed the remainder of the wound with tissue glue. After the tricky operation, George was moved to the fresh, oxygenated water and was soon up and swimming around as normal.             

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