Now that’s a jumbo gallstone! Thai vets remove 3.7lbs stone from 50-year-old elephant’s gallbladder


Vets in Thailand have removed an enormous 3.7lbs (1.7kg) gallstone from a 50-year-old elephant. 

Vets realised there was something wrong with Sai Thong when she lost her appetite and was struggling to go to the toilet.

They took action when the 50-year-old elephant collapsed with severe stomach-ache at an elephant camp in Pattaya, eastern Thailand.

Vets from Bangkok’s Kasetsart University visited the three-tonne jumbo to check on her health. At first, they thought the condition was due to old age.

However, the medics were shocked when they performed an endoscopy on March 30 and found a 20cm by 15cm stone inside her gallbladder.

Vets in Thailand have removed an enormous 3.7lbs (1.7kg) gallstone from a 50-year-old elephant

Vets in Thailand have removed an enormous 3.7lbs (1.7kg) gallstone from a 50-year-old elephant 

Vets realised there was something wrong with Sai Thong when she lost her appetite and was struggling to go to the toilet

Vets realised there was something wrong with Sai Thong when she lost her appetite and was struggling to go to the toilet

Vets realised there was something wrong with Sai Thong when she lost her appetite and was struggling to go to the toilet

The vets operated on the jumbo the same day by tying her on a harness attached to a crane used on building sites to keep her upright and prevent her from falling over during the procedure, when general anaesthetics were given.

After six hours, the team of more than 20 vets were able to extract the huge 3.7lbs (1.7kg) stone from her gallbladder.

Associate Professor Dr Nikorn Thongthip, part of the veterinary team that operated on Sai Thong, said it was only the second time in the world that a gallstone had been removed from an elephant.

Vets took action after the 50-year-old elephant collapsed with severe stomach-ache at an elephant camp in Pattaya, eastern Thailand

Vets took action after the 50-year-old elephant collapsed with severe stomach-ache at an elephant camp in Pattaya, eastern Thailand

Vets took action after the 50-year-old elephant collapsed with severe stomach-ache at an elephant camp in Pattaya, eastern Thailand

Vets from Bangkok's Kasetsart University initially visited the three-tonne jumbo to check on her health

Vets from Bangkok's Kasetsart University initially visited the three-tonne jumbo to check on her health

Vets from Bangkok’s Kasetsart University initially visited the three-tonne jumbo to check on her health

Initially, they thought her symptoms were a result of old age, but later discovered the massive gallstone lodged in her gallbladder

Initially, they thought her symptoms were a result of old age, but later discovered the massive gallstone lodged in her gallbladder

Initially, they thought her symptoms were a result of old age, but later discovered the massive gallstone lodged in her gallbladder

The vets made the shocking discovery when they performed an endoscopy on Sai Thong on March 30 and found the 20cm by 15cm gallstone

The vets made the shocking discovery when they performed an endoscopy on Sai Thong on March 30 and found the 20cm by 15cm gallstone

The vets made the shocking discovery when they performed an endoscopy on Sai Thong on March 30 and found the 20cm by 15cm gallstone

After six hours of surgery, the team of more than 20 vets were able to extract the huge 3.7lbs (1.7kg) stone from her gallbladder

After six hours of surgery, the team of more than 20 vets were able to extract the huge 3.7lbs (1.7kg) stone from her gallbladder

After six hours of surgery, the team of more than 20 vets were able to extract the huge 3.7lbs (1.7kg) stone from her gallbladder

Vets have performed the delicate operation on an elephant before, with Kham Moon who had more than 162 small stones weighing a total of 17.6lbs (8kg) (pictured next to Sai Thong's gallstone)

Vets have performed the delicate operation on an elephant before, with Kham Moon who had more than 162 small stones weighing a total of 17.6lbs (8kg) (pictured next to Sai Thong's gallstone)

Vets have performed the delicate operation on an elephant before, with Kham Moon who had more than 162 small stones weighing a total of 17.6lbs (8kg) (pictured next to Sai Thong’s gallstone)

Vet Thongthip said the operation was a breakthrough for the international veterinary community and said many institutes had asked the faculty to share the knowledge on treating large animals

Vet Thongthip said the operation was a breakthrough for the international veterinary community and said many institutes had asked the faculty to share the knowledge on treating large animals

Vet Thongthip said the operation was a breakthrough for the international veterinary community and said many institutes had asked the faculty to share the knowledge on treating large animals

Vet Thongthip said the operation was a breakthrough for the international veterinary community and said many institutes had asked the faculty to share the knowledge on treating large animals.

The vet added: ‘This is only the second case in the world of a gallstone being removed from an elephant. The first time, we performed a similar surgery on Kham Moon, a 45-year-old male elephant.

‘However the case of Sai Thong is different, as we removed one big gallstone weighing 3.7lbs (1.7kg). In the case of Kham Moon, we removed over 162 small gallstones weighing a total of 17.6lbs (8kg).’

The poor elephant has been left with an infected urethra as a result of weeks of having difficulty urinating because of the massive gallstone.

Sai Thong was examined after she collapsed because of the massive gallstone. She has been left with an infected urethra as a result of the gallstone

Sai Thong was examined after she collapsed because of the massive gallstone. She has been left with an infected urethra as a result of the gallstone

Sai Thong was examined after she collapsed because of the massive gallstone. She has been left with an infected urethra as a result of the gallstone

The 3.7lbs (1.7kg) gallstone was discovered during an endoscopy - when a long, thin tube is inserted directly into the body to observe internal organs in detail

The 3.7lbs (1.7kg) gallstone was discovered during an endoscopy - when a long, thin tube is inserted directly into the body to observe internal organs in detail

The 3.7lbs (1.7kg) gallstone was discovered during an endoscopy – when a long, thin tube is inserted directly into the body to observe internal organs in detail 

The vets operated by tying her on a harness attached to a crane used on building sites to keep her upright and prevent her from falling over during the procedure

The vets operated by tying her on a harness attached to a crane used on building sites to keep her upright and prevent her from falling over during the procedure

The vets operated by tying her on a harness attached to a crane used on building sites to keep her upright and prevent her from falling over during the procedure

Medics said that Sai Thong almost had an acute kidney failure due to the massive blockage in her bladder and needed blood transfusions following the operation.

Vet Thongthip said: ‘I am relieved that we were able to treat her before the infection became acute. The operation was successful thanks to everyone’s efforts.’

Elephants are the national animal of Thailand. 

An estimated 2,000 elephants are living in the wild and a similar number in captivity where they live in sanctuaries, zoos or work privately for hire at weddings and festivals.

Sai Thong was held by a harness while she was under sedation so the vets could perform the vital surgery

Sai Thong was held by a harness while she was under sedation so the vets could perform the vital surgery

Sai Thong was held by a harness while she was under sedation so the vets could perform the vital surgery

The 50-year-old elephant was put under general anaesthetic while the vets removed the gallstone from her gallbladder

The 50-year-old elephant was put under general anaesthetic while the vets removed the gallstone from her gallbladder

The 50-year-old elephant was put under general anaesthetic while the vets removed the gallstone from her gallbladder

Medics said that Sai Thong almost had an acute kidney failure due to the massive blockage in her bladder and needed blood transfusions following the operation

Medics said that Sai Thong almost had an acute kidney failure due to the massive blockage in her bladder and needed blood transfusions following the operation

Medics said that Sai Thong almost had an acute kidney failure due to the massive blockage in her bladder and needed blood transfusions following the operation



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