Intratracheal Medication for Birds (Disease Investigation & Control - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Control / Treatment & Care / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords --
Description Delivery of medication directly into the tracheal through the glottis. The following description outlines the procedure as described by Coles (B14).
  • Place medication in a syringe with a blunt needle attached.
  • Hold bird with neck vertical and slightly extended.
  • Gently restrain tongue on floor of mouth.
  • Pass blunt needle through the glottis into the trachea.
  • Slowly expel drug from the syringe.
Appropriate Use (?)
  • May be used to treat respiratory system diseases (e.g. to deliver amphotericin B).
  • Predominantly used for treatment of fungal infections.
  • Allows topical treatment which may be more efficacious than parenteral medication.
  • May be carried out in conscious bird (e.g. raptor) (B11.18.w9).
  • 0.5ml may be administered to a 1kg bird without causing respiratory embarrassment (B11.18.w9).
  • Upto 1ml has been given by this route to pigeons and to parrots (400-500g body weight) (B14).
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Coughing is likely.
  • Risk of suffocation.
  • Risk of aspiration pneumonia.
  • Excessive volumes may cause respiratory embarrassment.
  • May require heavy sedation or anaesthesia in parrots (B14)
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Blunted needle, syringe.
  • Appropriate medication.
Expertise level / Ease of Use Procedure should only be undertaken by an individual with appropriate clinical training and practical experience; this would usually be a veterinarian or someone with advanced veterinary technician training.
Cost/ Availability Inexpensive, unless expensive drugs are being administered.
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).).

Use of Drugs (Medication):

  • Many drugs are not registered for use in particular bird species and care should be taken in their use, with proper regard for possible toxic effects. Consideration should be give to relevant legislation regarding the use of drugs.
  • In the UK, guidelines regarding the use of drugs are set out in the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Guide to Professional Conduct 2000: (see: LCofC1 - RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Choice of Medicinal Products).
Author Debra Bourne
References B11.5.w18, B11.18.w9, B13.17.w16, B14

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