Endoscopic Examination of Cranes (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords See also:
  •  Anaesthetise the crane. (B115.8.w4)
  • Choose the site depending on the area to be observed: (B115.8.w4)
    • Ventral midline and the posterior margin of the sternum - for liver examination and biopsy.
    • To one side of the ventral midline close to the pelvis - for examination of the urogenital and gastrointestinal tracts.
    • Lateral to the cloaca - for examination of the urogenital and gastrointestinal tracts.
    • The flank, just behind the last rib - for the genital organs and the posterior lungs
      • Between the last and second last rib in Grus leucogeranus - Siberian crane to reduce the risk of haemorrhage (which is common if the site behind the last rib is used in this species).
    • Dorsally, just below the vertebral column and just anterior to the leg, entering between the second-last and third-to-last ribs - for examination of the lungs.
  • Place the bird in the correct position for access to the chosen site.
  • Surgically prepare the endoscopic site. (B115.8.w4)
  • Consider placing a sterile transparent plastic drape/wound dressing. (B13.13.w32)
  • Identify the landmarks for the chosen surgical site and make a small incision through the skin. (B13.13.w32)
  • Bluntly separate the musculature of the body wall. (B13.13.w32)
  • Carefully insert the endoscope. (B13.13.w32)
  • Following the examination, withdraw the endoscope.
  • Place an absorbable suture in the body wall and another in the skin when the endoscope is withdrawn, to reduce the risk of subcutaneous emphysema (air leaking from the air sacs).  (B115.8.w4)

(B13.13.w32, B115.8.w4)

Appropriate Use (?)
  • Can be used for sex determination (visual confirmation of the presence of ovary or testes). (B115.8.w4)
  • Diagnosis of various abdominal and respiratory diseases. (B115.8.w4)
  • Can reduce trauma and, by magnification, enable more precise surgical techniques.
  • Sterilise the endoscope before use. (B115.8.w4)
    • Commonly, endoscopes are sterilised with ethylene oxide gas; it is then necessary to leave the instrument to air for 8-12 hours before use. (B115.8.w4)
    • Soaking in 2% glutaraldehyde for 15-20 minutes is effective and faster. (B115.8.w4)
      • The optics of the endoscope may be damaged if lesft soaking for more than two hours. (B115.8.w4)
      • Rinse with sterile distilled water after disinfecting with glutaraldehyde, twice for 3-5 minutes each. (B115.8.w4)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Not suitable in a bird with severe disease in which general anaesthesia is inadvisable.
    • Endoscopy of non-anaesthetised, physically restrained cranes is not recommended.
  • Should not be used in the presence of a large developing egg.
  • Contraindicated in an obese bird, or an individual with ascites (fluid in the abdomen).
  • Risks include the possibility of traumatic damage to organs, including laceration of the liver, spleen or a large blood vessel, with resultant haemorrhage which may be fatal.
  • Following the procedure, subcutaneous emphysema may develop due to air escaping from the air sacs through the hole made in the body wall. See: Air Sac Injury in Waterfowl and Cranes
    • If an absorbable suture is placed in the body wall and another in the skin when the endoscope is withdrawn, the risk of subcutaneous emphysema is reduced.
  • Possibility of infection at the site.


Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Human bronchoscope with extra channels allowing insertion of additional instruments is recommended.

  • Flexible endoscopes are useful for examination of the trachea and the gastrointestinal tract (and for foreign body removal from these locations).

  • Rigid endoscope 1.9 - 2.7 mm external diameter, 30 degree view, 17 - 19 cm long is recommended, with a 150 watt light source attached via a flexible fibre-optic cord.

  • In field situations, a system with a handle-mounted battery pack (an ophthalmoscope/otoscope handle) and a focussing ocular piece on a rigid tube has been used.


Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • This is a veterinary procedure; this procedure should only be carried out by an individual with appropriate clinical training and practical experience. (B115.8.w4)
  • Prior training is important both to avoid mistakes and to enable correct interpretation when tissues are viewed via an endoscope; the operator must become familiar with normal and abnormal (pathological) appearances of the different organs as seen through an endoscope. (B115.8.w4)
Cost/ Availability
  • Endoscopes are expensive; the field version described is cheaper.
Legal and Ethical Considerations
  • In some countries there may be legislation restricting the use of this type of technique to licensed veterinarians. For example in the UK: "The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides, subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons may practice veterinary surgery." (See: LCofC1 - RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Treatment of Animals by Non-Veterinary Surgeons).
Author Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
References B13.13.w32, B115.8.w4

Return to Top of Page