Wing Amputation - Adult Waterfowl (Disease Investigation & Control - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Control / Treatment & Care / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords (See also: Partial Wing Amputation - Adult Waterfowl)
Description Wing amputation is the removal of the wing, generally at the end of the proximal third of the humerus. The following description outlines the procedure as described by Bennett & Harrison (B13.41.w14), with additional notes from Boardman (V.w6).
  • Anaesthetise - General anaesthesia.
  • Incise skin just proximal to the elbow.
  • Transect muscles near the elbow, at the musculotendinous junction
  • Inject radial and medianoulnar nerves with local anaesthetic (lidocaine or bupivacaine), before transecting the nerves, to provide short-term postoperative analgesia.
  • Bluntly dissect brachial musculature to remove attachments to the humerus and thereby mobilise the muscles.
  • Transect the humerus at the end of the proximal third of its length (junction of proximal third and middle third).
  • Suture muscles over stump; N.B. Sites of transections of muscle and bone should be determined so as to provide sufficient muscle to suture over the stump of the bone (B13.41.w14). Pull skin and muscle over cut ends of bone and suture muscle and fascia to provide a protective pad over the cut end of the bone (V.w6).
  • Close subcutaneous tissues and skin in a routine manner (B13.41.w14). Whilst apposing the skin edges, suture the skin loosely, for example with a continuous (running) suture, to avoid pressure necrosis. This may also be sealed with surgical glue. If absorbable sutures are used, removal is usually unnecessary (V.w6).

(B13.41.w14, V.w6)

Appropriate Use (?)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Wing amputation is permanent and irreversible: a bird which has undergone this procedure will never be able to fly.
  • Care must be taken to ensure sufficient soft tissue is available to adequately cover the stump of the bone (V.w6).
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Anaesthetic equipment
  • Surgical equipment
  • Suture materials - including surgical glue if used.
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 Expensive procedure due to requirement for full veterinary surgical procedure to be undertaken under general anaesthesia.
Legal and Ethical Considerations
  • Wing amputation is a major surgical operation.
  • A bird which has had a wing amputated must be provided with permanent safe accommodation (B118.9.w9).

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 B13.41.w14, B118.9.w9, V.w6

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