Estimating incision healing rate for surgically implanted acoustic transmitters from recaptured fish

Animal Biotelemetry
By: , and 



Background Intracoelomic implantation of electronic tags has become a common method in fishery research, but rarely are fish examined by scientists after release to understand the extent that surgical incisions have healed. Walleye (Sander vitreus) are a valuable, highly exploited fishery resource in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Here, fishery capture of walleye with internal acoustic transmitters combined with a high reward program provided multiple opportunities to examine photographs and quantify the status of surgical incisions. Walleye (n = 926) from reef and river spawning populations in Lake Erie and Lake Huron were implanted with acoustic transmitters during spring spawning events from 2011 to 2016. Incisions were closed with polydioxanone monofilament using two to three interrupted sutures. Out of 276 recaptured fish, 60 incision sites were clearly visible in photographs, and these were scored by two independent readers for incision closure, inflammation, and the presence of sutures.

Results While incision sites were completely closed by 61 days post-release (95% CI 44–94), sutures remained for up to 866 days. Sutures were expelled serially during a protracted period, and the probability of observing at least one suture in a recaptured fish declined below 50% after 673 days (95% CI 442–1016). Inflammation at the incision increased during the first 71 days and then declined monotonically, remaining detectable at low levels.

Conclusion Our results emphasized that sutures remained in free-ranging fish past the time when they were beneficial for incision healing. Most dissolvable sutures have been designed for use in endotherms where the body temperature and internal milieu differ dramatically from the conditions experienced by fishes in temperate climates. Identification of new suture materials for fish that facilitate healing while absorbing or dissolving in a reasonable period (e.g., a few weeks to three months) in colder temperatures (e.g., <12 °C) would be beneficial to mitigate potential adverse impacts from inflammation at the incision.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Estimating incision healing rate for surgically implanted acoustic transmitters from recaptured fish
Series title Animal Biotelemetry
DOI 10.1186/s40317-017-0130-2
Volume 5
Issue 15
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher BMC Publications
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 8 p.