If you got a team of the worlds best turtle surgeons, could you somehow pull it off by putting like an exoskeleton there or something?

If you got the best of the best, Iím sure it could be made to happen.

The complication is that the shell is fused to the spine, which contains the spinal cord. Severing the spinal cord is never good for any chordate (of which a turtle is one). Severing or damaging the spinal cord can lead to paralysis or death. So you have to be extremely careful what youíre doing.

Further complicating an already complicated procedure is that it appears that a turtleís lungs may be attached to the upper shell by connective tissues, which would have to be severed and reattached after a replacement is fitted. This would require artificial respiration in a human, since our lungs are negatively pressurized by the extension of our diaphragms and rib cages, which are more flexible than most of our bones. This setup requires the maintenance of a vacuum in the thoracic cavity, which is one of the reasons punctured lungs are such a serious injury. The more air that gets into them, the more the lungs are compressed, the less air youíre able to take in. This is aside from the bleeding, which is another big problem.

Anyway, this is not how it works in turtles (at least in sea turtles), they have a pelvic muscle that performs a similar function. The upshot is the muscles use the turtles own guts to squeeze air out of the lungs, and then relax the pelvic muscles, allowing air back in them. Problem is, the muscles responsible for the turtleís respiration anchor on the ribs. Which, like pretty much the rest of the turtleís skeletal system, is fused to the shell.

So theoretically, if a doctor could un-fuse the shell from the spine and ribs, he or she could remove the shell with minimal damage. But thatís a very big ask. The turtle would have to be sedated for hours upon hours, and this is trickier for reptiles than it would be for any mammal. The smaller the turtle, the more anesthetic must be used (this has to do with bone density), and they require heating and eye lubrication for support while theyíre out.


Source: https://www.quora.com/Can-you-surgic...-turtles-shell

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