Hope: Uromastyx lizard bladder stone exploratory laporotomy (exlap)

Meet Hope! She came in to see us after she passed her clutch of eggs over a few days (rather than all in one go) and then became lethargic and off her food.

Diagnosis and treatment

Her owner was worried about a retained egg and we could feel something firm in her tummy. Ultrasound and x-ray revealed, rather than an egg, she actually had a rather large bladder stone!
Bladder stones have “concentric laminations” on x-rays which form as they enlarge over time, whilst eggs usually have a more defined “shelled” appearance.

Hope underwent surgery to remove the offending stone from her bladder, and a urine sample was taken for analysis.

Information for owners

Iguanas, tortoises, and uromastyx lizards are all at a higher risk of developing bladder stones compared to the omnivorous and carnivorous reptiles. They can form due to nutritional imbalances, chronic dehydration, concurrent underlying illnesses, or sometimes eggs that have been pushed back upwards and into the bladder!

Often our reptiles will have a stone grumbling away for weeks or even months before we notice any clinical signs like inappetence, decreased mobility, straining to defecate, struggling or failing to lay eggs, or lethargy. Larger stones take up space internally and cause inflammation and pain in the bladder, and those that cannot be removed via the cloaca will need surgical intervention.

There is no single sign that indicates your reptile might have a bladder stone. Ensuring they are well hydrated and on an appropriate diet is a key part of prevention.