A 22-yr-old, 86-kg, morbidly obese female orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus abelii) was immobilized and transported to the Denver Zoological Gardens hospital for a routine physical examination. Immediately after arriving at the hospital, cyanosis and apparent inadequate ventilatory efforts were noted. Clinically significant hypoxia occurred despite attempts to ventilate the orangutan through face mask, and attempts to place an endotracheal tube began. A large volume of pink-tinged frothy fluid flowed from the trachea when the laryngoscope was inserted into the oropharynx. Severe pulmonary edema due to negative-pressure pulmonary edema, precipitating life-threatening hypoxia was suspected. The orangutan was maintained on a mechanical ventilator using the neuromuscular blocking agent cisatracurium besylate and sedation with periodic doses of isoflurane and midazolam for 48 hr. Positive end-expiratory pressure was used while the orangutan was ventilated mechanically to improve respiratory function. The edema and hypoxia improved, but respiratory arrest ensued 30 min after extubation, when the orangutan was removed from mechanical ventilation. Necropsy and histopathology demonstrated that serious lung injury had led to acute respiratory distress syndrome.
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Vol. 34 • No. 4