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60-Second Science

House Call for Gorilla

After suffering a seizure, a Bronx Zoo gorilla got a special house call--a mobile MRI unit came to him so vets could perform a brain scan. Steve Mirsky reports

[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

How do you do a brain scan on a gorilla. Yeah, yeah, very carefully, right. He sleeps anywhere he wants to, too. But seriously, trying to do an MRI on a gorilla presents certain logistical problems. Back in the 1980s, when a gorilla at the Bronx Zoo needed to be scanned, zoo staff working with pathologists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine slipped the sedated primate into Montefiore Hospital in the dead of night. The only sign of anything unusual was a big hairy arm sticking out from under a sheet on a gurney.

Recently, another Bronx Zoo gorilla, named Fubo, needed some high-tech evaluation after he had a seizure. But now the MRI machine could come to him. The Brain Tumor Foundation sent its Bobby Murcer Mobile MRI Unit over to the zoo. Murcer was a New York Yankee outfielder and broadcaster whose life was cut short in 2008 by a brain tumor. Einstein physicians again worked with zoo vets to diagnose the problem. Which appears to be a lesion in Fubo’s left temporal lobe. He’s being treated—but won’t be released! To see images of the procedure, check out the slide show on our Web site, www.SciAm.com

—Steve Mirsky

 

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