Removal of Retained Egg in Birds (Disease Investigation & Control - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Control / Treatment & Care / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords Hysterotomy
Description The following description outlines the procedure as described by Bush, 1986 (B10.20.w16), with additional notes from Coles, 1997 (B14) and Bennett & Harrison, 1993 (B13.41.14):
  • Anaesthetise.
  • Place on warmed surface.
  • Surgically prepare ventral abdomen.
  • Midline abdominal incision, into the left ventral hepatic cavity. (Initial small incision between pubic bones, may then be extended cranially to level of sternum. Care to avoid duodenum, passing from left to right just inside body wall. Incision size "should should be sufficient to allow the procedure to be performed, but as small as possible to minimize tissue damage and air sac disruption, and to make it easier to maintain anaesthesia" (B13.41.w14).
  • Carefully examine peritoneal cavity for signs of yolk peritonitis.
  • Reflect oviduct and egg, pack off from abdomen with gauze moistened with physiological saline (0.9% saline). N.B. the egg may be located well to the bird's left (the surgeon's right), and also may be much larger than expected (B14).
  • Incise oviduct over egg; the incision should be sufficiently long to deliver the egg without tearing or stretching the oviduct. Fine stay sutures may be used to mark the cut edges of the oviduct, to aid in marking and closing the incision (B10.20.w16); these may be placed before the incision is made (B14).
  • Remove egg.
  • Close oviduct with fine absorbable suture material on a small atraumatic needle, in a continuous pattern. ("... should be closed with a simple appositional continuous or inverting pattern of a fine monofilament synthetic absorbable material."(B13.41.w13).
  • Flush peritoneal cavity with warmed physiological saline if any contamination suspected, instil antibiotics (aqueous penicillin or ampicillin) and steroids (dexamethasone).
  • Close abdomen with interrupted sutures. ("Closure of the body wall is accomplished using simple interrupted or simple continuous, monofilament, synthetic, absorbable suture material. Skin closure is routine." (B13.41.w13).
  • Administer antibiotics postoperatively.
  • Keep warm and provide warmth, food and fluids.

(B10.20.w16, B13.41.14, B14).

Appropriate Use (?)
  • Treatment of some types of Egg Binding,
  • Clinical judgement is required to determine whether or not invasive surgery is required (B10.20.w16).
Notes Continue use of antibiotics and corticosteroids if yolk contamination is suspected.
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • N.B. Abdominal fat may obscure the oviduct (B14).
  • N.B. Oviduct is fragile and tears easily (B14).
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Appropriate equipment for general anaesthesia.
  • Surgical kit including instruments and consumables appropriate for the size of bird.
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.
Cost/ Availability May be quite expensive: cost of general anaesthesia and substantial surgical operation.
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
References B10.26.w16, B13.41.14, B14

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