Spayed female, gravid 🙃 (Ovarian Remnant Syndrome)

Oh how I wish this was a late April Fools joke, but no, it’s real life.


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I decided to make a separate thread, since my other was getting rather long and some may be interested in this beyond the scope of that one. Here’s the backstory on this x-ray, and the situation in general:

Backstory

Last year, this girl ended up egg bound, and was eventually spayed. She did amazingly, healed well, regained her body condition, and was living life as a beloved pet, free from further reproductive issues…Or so I thought.

I left the country the second week of April, leaving my dad in charge of all my animals, Celia included. I ended up having to extend my trip, and spent almost a full month gone. When I got back, one of the first things I noticed was that Celia was looking swollen and refused food. Took her to the vet the day after I got home. We were working on the suspicion that she had retained dissolvable suture material that had caused an infection. Vet put her on ceftaz for the next 3 weeks.

One week later, I was giving her injection #2 and when I picked her up, I noticed she was more swollen than before and looked gravid. Palpated her, she felt gravid, which should not have been possible. Next morning I called the vet when they opened and made a same-day emergency appointment again. I take her in, go through the q & a with the tech, and then she leaves before the vet comes in. This is the same vet who did her initial spay, and she was quite skeptical of the presenting complaint for obvious reasons. However the moment she palpated Celia herself, that changed quite quickly. She agreed Celia felt gravid and ordered an x-ray. What you see is what showed up. My “spayed” female must’ve retained/regenerated enough tissue to ovulate and produce what appears to be seven, maybe eight eggs. Had I not realized something was up, there’s a very real possibility she could have ended up losing her life due to infection from the retained eggs.

So that’s the story of how my spayed female is going to be spayed again, coincidentally one year to the day since her first surgery. To any other reptile breeders, do keep in mind that while this kind of thing is uncommon, it can happen. Be vigilant about observing all of your animals, even if you think a problem has been resolved.

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That is a crazy thing to have happen! Totally unexpected and almost unbelievable as well, if you don’t know about snakes incredible regenerative capabilities. Obviously she retained sperm from the year before as well! For her to regenerate enough to produce shelled eggs after just a year of the initial spay operation is just incredible on her part to do! Great thread, I missed the first one! Glad you posted the x-ray pics, that’s nuts to see for yourself!

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The whole adventure with her has been a wild ride, albeit quite the strain on the finances and nerves, too. She’s been teaching me all about the amazing resilience and reproductive capacity of corns! I plan to ask the vet to hold back the eggs for me, just to see if they can be successfully incubated. At this point I might even ask if photos can be taken during surgery, since there’s not much documentation of ORS in snakes, as they’re not spayed as often as other reptiles.

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I agree it is very interesting and any knowledge you can gain from the observations of this corn would be appreciated in this reptile community at the very least! I used to hear a lot about the venomoids regenerating venom ducts and glands, but this is probably the most extreme and seemingly fast case of regeneration that functioned just as good as normal! As far as incubating the eggs, it would be interesting to try but there would be a lot of additional factors such as if all/some are actually fertile. Since it is from retained sperm normally the fertility does go down with the clutch, and I am just thinking they must be close or at term- but definitely different taking eggs from a operation then collecting after laying. Be real interested what they look like and if you can incubate and get some to hatch!

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I look forward to being able to share what I find out with everyone else, she’s a very interesting case. I figure at worst, the eggs are all infertile/non-viable and I end up having to toss them. At best, I get one or more healthy little hatchlings out of something that shouldn’t even have been possible. Her shed schedule suggests that yesterday would have been her “pre-lay” if we were going by the typical markers. She shed once while I was gone, it would have been her second shed within a month/month and a half. Her surgery is set for next Thursday. Hopefully that means better chances, but if not, at least my girl will be spayed and done with this craziness finally!

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You have had such an astonishing time of it!. So many things which hardly ever happen, let alone to someone who has relatively few serpents rather than dozens or hundreds.

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Even more so when you consider she was my first snake ever and I’ve only been breeding for the last two years, lol. Got tossed straight into the deep end.

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I’m not so sure. I’m thinking you got tossed into, say, the middle of Lake Superior.

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Considering proximity & depth…I may have to agree. Quite the sink-or-swim test. :sweat_smile: :smiling_face_with_tear:

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Oh my goodness, that’s wild. That girl just loves to keep you on your toes! I’m sorry she’s going to have to go through surgery again, and that you have to go through her going through surgery again.

I hope Celia does just as well with the second (and hopefully final!) spay as she did with the first. It would be crazy if any of those eggs turned out to be viable and could be hatched!

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More than likely, they are viable and could be hatched. But I think trying to get them out without hurting them could mean taking extra risks with mom’s life unfortunately.

Again Jess, I am so so so so so so sorry that this is happening to you of all people. I know that you have such great love for your animals even down to the most minimal parts of care. I am sending love and prayers for her.

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It would indeed be crazy!

I think it depends on what surgical approach they take and how adhered things are. Theoretically they could just make a lower incision (or re-open the previous site) and try to move everything out manually. There is incentive to remove the eggs without puncturing, as breached shells increase the chances of severe internal infection. I will hopefully get to speak with her vet before surgery to get an idea of what will happen and if there’s any chance at all for the eggs, but Celia is definitely the priority here.

Honestly, I’m almost glad it happened to someone like me, because I’m such a helicopter parent to my animals that I caught the problem right away. Can’t imagine if I hadn’t gone back after I realized she was gravid and just went with the vet’s original diagnosis, what the outcome could have been. I had actually almost extended my time in Korea further, but there was a nagging feeling that I needed to get home.

I think she’ll probably do just fine, but thank you for the love and prayers, I’m sure she’d appreciate it if she understood. I know the care team involved are enamored with her, so I trust they’ll do everything they can to get her back to me happy, healthy, and in one piece.

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Oh no!!! I apologize for not reading the entire thread yet- I just have to comment on my experience with ovarian remnants. Ovarian remnants following a spay is a constant, major fear for veterinarians. I’ve seen it a couple times before (in dogs & cats, though I was just an assistant at the time), and the shame and guilt you feel for having missed some reproductive tissue is terrible. And for the owners it is a terrible nightmare situation that they never thought they’d have to deal with, and it’s totally understandable that they would be upset.

It’s my understanding that reptiles are more prone to have ovarian remnants than dogs/cats, though I don’t know why and I may be incorrect. When two of my leos were eggbound, they took the ovaries but left their fallopian tubes, in the event that there were any remnants that developed into eggs that needed to be laid.

This can backfire if there is an unnoticeable infection or problem with the tubes, but I was told by well-informed specialists that the remnant issue was the greater risk. One of my girls passed away following surgery after developing an infection in one of the tubes. The egg had been there so long that the tube was unable to contract back to normal diameter following egg removal and an infection developed. I knew this was a possibility, so I do not fault her vet, but it still sucks. I feel you. :heart:

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I was initially very ticked off when I realized she was gravid, was like, “Why do I have to pay for this twice?!” but then I did the research into it. I also realized that despite it techincally being someone’s fault, it was always a possible outcome and it’s still the same surgery with the same complexities the second time around. I settled for a payment plan, since I know how rare those are and they know that I will pay because I just want my girl healthy/I wasn’t expecting the expense at all.

Her surgeon was frustrated, too, because she got everything there was, as far as she could see. I heard her explaining it to the techs when Celia was brought back for the x-ray. I have total sympathy for that kind of situation, because it’s something no professional wants to have happen or to have to explain to an owner. She’s doing the second surgery, too, and I fully trust her with it.

Thankfully while she may be unable to lay due to the lack of anatomy, everything was caught quickly and treatment started, so she’ll be in better condition when it comes time for her operation. With luck & the vet’s skill, she’ll make it through this trial unscathed, free to live out her life sans reproductive issues any further. Thank you for your perspective. :blue_heart:

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I sent in Celia’s pre-surgical paperwork this morning. It’s still quite hilarious to read her sex, “Spayed female”, as well as the procedure, “Gravid spay”. Still can’t quite believe all that has led to this. She goes in on Thursday, I have to take her water out probably tonight after midnight, per instructions. Can’t wait to have it over and her home.

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Still crazy to think that you have to do the same procedure twice!! Glad it’s almost over for you and her though!

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Such a crazy thing to happen. I will be very thankful for al concerned when this is behind you.

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The end is in sight, @banereptiles @caryl! I’m gonna ask the vet to take photos, if possible. I have to see this to really solidify it happened.

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She is just so very chonky right now:

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She is indeed! Lol. She’s got a right!

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