Laparoscopic Sexing (with special reference to Cranes) (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords See also: Endoscopic Examination of Cranes (Techniques)
  • Anaesthetise the crane. (B115.8.w4)
    • Laparascopic examination of physically restrained, non-anaesthetised cranes is not recommended. (B115.8.w4)
  • Place the bird in lateral recumbency on its right side, with its wings reflected dorsally. (J23.18.w6)
  • Move the legs posteriorly (most species) or anteriorly (larger parrots), depending on the species. (J3.112.w3, J23.18.w6)
  • Pluck and surgically prepare the laparoscope site around the last rib on the left hand side. (J23.18.w6)
  • Using a pair of fine pointed scissors, make a small incision between the last two ribs on the left side. (J3.112.w3)
  • Or Just behind the last rib, insert the sterile laparoscope cannula and trochar: keep the trochar angled arteriorly and parallel to the spine to avoid all the major organs. (J23.18.w6)
  • Insert the laparoscope into the posterior thoracic airsac(J3.112.w3) or withdraw the trochar and insert the laparoscope through the cannula (sleeve). (J23.18.w6)
  • Make a small incision on the left side of the crane, just behind the last rib, or just in front of the last rib. (B115.8.w4)
  • Locate the gonads: along the dorsum of the body cavity, locate the anterior pole of the kidney; ventral to this is the triangular, pink adrenal gland. Posterior and just ventral to the adrenal should be the gonad. (J23.18.w6)
  • Examine the gonad:
    • Testes are smooth, elongated, usually with visible surface vessels. (J23.18.w6)
    • Male cranes have paired, white to tan testes. In immature males they are small (0.5-1.21 x 0.1-0.2 mm) and are usually avascular. In mature the testes are much larger (3-5 x 2-3 cm) and the surface is vascularised. (B115.11C.w12)
    • Ovaries are composed of multiple small to large follicles. (J23.18.w6)
    • Female cranes have a single (left) ovary. In very young females it may not be visible; if it is, it is pink to tan, flat and looks like "pebbled" fat. In subadult females the surface appears granular and in mature females the follicles give a "cluster of grapes" appearance. (B115.11C.w12)
  • Withdraw the laparoscope (and cannula) and treat the puncture site with topical antibiotic ointment. (J23.18.w6)
  • Or Suture the incision with 3/0 absorbable suture material. (J23.18.w6)
Appropriate Use (?)
  • For confirming the sex of cranes by direct visualisation of the gonads.
  • This method of sex determination also allows visual detection of disease or dysfunction of the gonads or other organs. (B13.29.w8)
  • This method is rapid, providing an immediate answer to the question of the bird's sex, without any problems due to seasonal variations. (J23.18.w6)
  • The gonads may be pigmented, unpigmented or partially pigmented. (J23.18.w6)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk Limitations in sex determination
  • It can be difficult to distinguish between the male and female gonads in some immature birds. (B13.29.w8, J3.112.w3, J23.18.w6)
    • If there is doubt, an attempt should be made to locate the second gonad. If this is present then the bird is male. (J23.18.w6)
  • Errors can occur if this procedure is carried out by inexperienced personnel. (J23.16.w7)
  • Alimentary tract distension can make examination of the gonads difficult. (J3.112.w3)
  • Excessive fat deposits around the kidneys and gonads can prevent viewing of the gonads. (J3.112.w3, J23.18.w6)
    • A 1 mm diameter probe inserted alongside the laparoscope can be used to tease the fat away from the gonad for observation. (J23.18.w6)

Complications and risks associated with the surgical procedure

  • This is an invasive procedure and requires a general anaesthetic. (B13.29.w8)
  • There is an increased risk of injury to the bird if this procedure is carried out be inexperienced personnel. (J23.16.w7)
  • This procedure can be carried out under manual restraint with local anaesthetic injected at the laparoscopic site, or under general anaesthetic. (J23.18.w6)
    • There is an increased risk of physical injury to the bird if the procedure is carried out under manual restraint. (J3.112.w3)
    • There is a small risk associated with general anaesthetic and this risk is increased if the bird is not healthy at the time of the examination. (J3.112.w3, J3.112.w4, J3.112.w5)
  • Mild post-operative emphysema may be noted; this usually resolves fully within 24 hours. (J23.18.w6)
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Laparoscope or otoscope.

  • Appropriate equipment and drugs for anaesthesia.

Expertise level / Ease of Use This procedure should be carried out by a veterinarian or trained veterinary technician only. (B115.11C.w12)
Cost/ Availability --
Legal and Ethical Considerations
  • There is a risk to the life of the bird, which should be considered. 
  • 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 B13.29.w8, B115.11C.w12, J3.112.w3, J23.16.w7, J23.18.w6

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