Amazing pictures show vets performing brain surgery - on a goldfish

By Conor Hallahan

An Australian animal hospital has become an online sensation after it posted incredible images to its Facebook page of one of its surgeons removing a head tumour - from a goldfish.

Dr Tristan Rich of Lort Smith Animal Hospital works to remove a tumour from George the goldfish

The operation on the much-loved Cyprinid - a 10-year-old family pet called George - was performed last Thursday by Dr Tristan Rich, head of the exotic and wildlife vet team at Lort Smith Animal Hospital in north Melbourne.

Dr Rich said the fish was owned by a couple who were "quite attached" to him, and who had been concerned by how the tumour was beginning to affect his ability to swim, eat and interact with his pondmates.

"He didn't join in as much with their afternoon party games," owner Pip Joyce of Hopper's Crossing told Channel 7 News.

"I gave the owner the option of trying to take [the tumour] off, or putting him to sleep," Dr Rich told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr Joyce opted for the hour-long surgery at a cost of AUD$200 (around €140).

George about to go under the surgeon's knife

"Many of you asked how you actually operate on a fish," the hospital said in a statement posted to its Facebook page.

The hospital explained that the surgeon set up three buckets - "one with a knock-out dose of anaesthetic, one with a maintenance level of anaesthetic, and one with clean water as the recovery unit".

In this picture you can see how anaesthetised water from the maintenance bucket was pumped over George's gills

"Once George was asleep, Dr Tristan ran a tube from the maintenance bucket which was being oxygenated, into George’s mouth, so that the water with the maintenance dose of anaesthetic washed over his gills.

"Dr Tristan worked quickly to remove the large tumour, although the size of it meant that he had to use a gelatine sponge to control the bleeding during surgery.

Immediately after the op - that's the tumour on the blue cloth to the left

"The size of the wound meant it was difficult to seal, so Dr Tristan put in four sutures then sealed the rest of the wound with tissue glue."

"Once that had set, George was placed in the recovery unit and given oxygen," the hospital explained.

"He was given injections with long acting pain relief and antibiotics. Soon afterwards he took a couple of breaths on his own and started swimming around."

George awake and in the recovery bucket

"Working with unusual pets and wildlife means that Dr Tristan has developed a lateral approach to creating effective theatre set ups and we are always amazed at the way he finds a way to help these little critters," the hospital added.

George is now expected to enjoy another 20 years of life, and has become something of a local celebrity in Australia after featuring on primetime news.

More power to him, we say.

All pictures: Nicole Dorling, Lort Smith Animal Hospital

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