Laser rhinoscopy was used to treat a nasal obstruction in a captive California sea lion (Zalophus californianus). The rehabilitated, adult, female sea lion developed mucopurulent, intermittent, bilateral nasal discharge and functional nasal obstruction 20 mo after acquisition by the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California. A 3-mm-thick soft tissue structure spanning the region between the soft and hard palates, a deviated nasal septum, and several nasopharyngeal polyps were identified. Biopsies and cultures of the obstructive web showed ulcerative granulation tissue with suppurative inflammation, bacterial infection, and a partial section of an arthropod larva (not speciated). Laser rhinoscopy was performed to relieve the caudal nasopharyngeal obstruction and ablate the polyps. The sea lion appeared to breathe through the nares with lessened nasal discharge for a period of 6 wk after laser therapy, but within 8 wk the mucopurulent nasal discharge returned, the obstruction had reformed, and the sea lion was euthanized. Postmortem examination confirmed antemortem diagnoses of caudal nasopharyngeal obstruction secondary to inflammatory tissue; however, no additional sections of arthropod parasites were located microscopically.
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Vol. 35 • No. 2