Gorilla endoscopic sinus surgery: a life-saving collaboration between human and veterinary medicine INTERNATIONAL FORUM OF ALLERGY & RHINOLOGY Davis, G. E., Baik, F. M., Liddell, R. M., Ayars, A. G., Branch, K. R., Pottinger, P. S., Hillel, A. D., Helmick, K., Collins, D. 2018; 8 (7): 857–62


Chronic rhinosinusitis is a common disease process in humans; however, in the primate population of gorillas, it has rarely been described. This case describes lifesaving sinus surgery on a critically ill gorilla performed by a human otolaryngology team in collaboration with the gorilla's veterinary medicine team.The 35-year-old western silverback gorilla was treated for 3 months with aggressive medical therapy for a worsening sinus infection. When his condition became severe, a computed tomography (CT) scan was performed showing advanced chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps vs other masses and some bone erosion. As his condition deteriorated further, a tertiary otolaryngology team performed sinus surgery using the latest technology available, including image guidance, steroid-eluting sinus stents, and balloon sinus dilation. The postoperative course was complicated by subcutaneous infection and eventual fistulization. Fortunately, with culture-directed antibiotic therapy his condition gradually improved. One year later he required revision sinus surgery. At that point allergy testing was performed followed by appropriate allergy medical therapy. Now, 3 years out from his initial surgery, he continues to do well and has fathered a young female gorilla.This case represents a unique collaboration between human physicians and veterinarians. The combined medical approach was critical to heal this ailing gorilla. This case discusses many of the challenges and offers recommendations for physicians who may be involved with similar care of animals in the future.The success of the surgical and medical treatment of this gorilla's life-threatening sinus infection required many experts, careful planning, and corporate generosity. The interaction between human and animal medicine would not have been successful without the close and trusting collaborations between human and veterinary health providers. We encourage human healthcare providers to seek volunteer opportunities through their local zoos by engaging in discussions with their local veterinarians.

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