From the Archives: Snake Surgery, 1983

By Nathalie Wheaton

In this January 1983 photo, otolaryngologist David D. Caldarelli, MD, left, and his medical team are shown treating an unusual patient.

Flame, a five-foot, poisonous African cobra snake from the Brookfield Zoo, was suffering from mouth cancer.

Despite coming to Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center fully anesthetized, doctors had to work carefully around her venomous fangs. The operation was a success and Flame went back to her “normal snake behavior.”

Nathalie Wheaton is assistant archivist in the Rush Archives. Visit the Rush Archives Web page or explore our collections. The Rush Archives welcomes visitors from Rush and the general public. To learn more, please contact

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