Radiosurgical units, lasers, microsurgery techniques, extremely safe anesthesia, surgical magnification: yes, avian surgery has come a long way! When I first joined the Association of Avian Veterinarians back in 1981, many surgical procedures were often discussed as a last-ditch procedure for pets, or for wild birds destined for re-release (and thus, needing near-perfect repairs of injuries).
Just about the only commonly performed avian surgery twenty years ago was surgical sexing. Many pet owners and breeders relied on this procedure, utilizing rigid endoscopic equipment, to accurately identify the sex of a bird. Surgical sexing was usually performed under general anesthesia, either provided as an anesthetic gas mixed with oxygen, or as a combination of injectable medications (labeled for use in dogs and cats, usually!) Since those early days of avian surgery, there have been many wonderful advances that make the procedures extremely safe and precise, improving the quality of life for many avian patients!
Surgical sexing used to be the single most common surgical procedure performed. Let's look at the initial uses of the fiber-optics endoscope and its use in sexing birds, and then follow where avian medicine has soared from there.
Prior to surgical sexing, most avian vets recommended fasting the bird for a period of time to prevent regurgitation during anesthesia. A physical exam would be performed on each bird prior to the procedure. Once a bird was anesthetized (and we'll go into that later), an area on the left side near the hip and thighbone (femur) would be prepped for sterile surgery. The feathers would be plucked, the area scrubbed with surgical soap, a sterile drape would be placed over the site and a small incision was then made through the skin. A hemostat or blunt probe would be forced through the muscles, and a sterile tube would then be slipped into the hole. This hollow sleeve then provided access into the body cavity of a bird. Usually an air sac would need to be punctured to provide the best visual exam. A bright, cool light source was connected to a rigid fiber-optics endoscope (usually designed for human joint surgery), and this sterile telescope would then fit into the hollow sleeve already in place. This would allow the surgeon to visually identify the single ovary of a parrot, found on the left side only, or the internal testicle on the left side. Parrots do have two testicles, both right and left. So, surgical sexing was performed on the left side, since the solitary ovary is normally found on that side. In many cases, by careful manipulation of the scope, both testicles could be identified, which would aid in confirming sexual identification.
While the avian surgeon was looking for the gonad (ovary or testicle), it was possible to evaluate the bird for potential problems, such as an enlarged liver or spleen, cloudy air sacs, abscesses or scar tissue. It was possible to swab a lesion for bacterial or fungal culture, and for the very brave surgeon, an organ (liver, kidney or spleen) might be biopsied for microscopic evaluation and testing. There were, however, limitations with surgical sexing. An inexperienced surgeon might misidentify the sex of the bird. Cloudy air sacs or an enlarged proventriculus (stomach) could obscure the area where the gonad was located, making sexual identification very difficult, or impossible on occasion. If an enlarged organ was seen, that did not constitute a diagnosis in itself. Often, additional testing, such as blood counts, blood chemistries and serology would also be necessary to provide an accurate diagnosis.
Because the ovary and testicles change, often dramatically, between breeding season and other times of the year, surgical sexing could often discern if the gonad was "active" or not. This was often helpful information if the exact age of a bird was not known (for example, if it was an imported bird with no history or medical information provided). But visual examination of the ovary or testicle could not tell if the bird had successfully bred before; the information was limited to telling if the gonad was active or not at the time of examination. Occasionally, areas of the ovary could indicate that the bird had ovulated previously.
Once the ovary or testicle was identified, the surgeon would apply a tattoo using sterile ink injected into the wing web of the appropriate wing to permanently identify the sex of the bird. Since females (of parrot species) usually only possess an ovary on the left side, the left wing web was tattooed to identify hens. Since males have testicles, left and right, they were tattooed under the right wing. (As an aid to help us remember, we were told that "males are always right" so tattoo the male under right wing!) Since there were so many female vets interested in avian medicine, we would just smile and smugly let the guys think they had something over on us! Ha!
After the tattoo was applied, the incision may have been closed with one suture, or a drop of a medical grade super-glue would be used. The muscles that were perforated during the procedure would not be sutured, since they would slide back into normal position once the bird was standing. Once the surgeon finished, the bird was usually wrapped up in a towel to sleep off the anesthetic agent. With gas, the bird would usually wake up faster than if had been given injectable anesthetic.
When I began doing surgery on birds, the best inhalation anesthetic available was halothane. This gas was being used on humans, and was quickly adopted for use in small animals and birds. One of the biggest advances in avian surgery was the introduction of isoflurane. This gas, while very expensive when compared with halothane, was much safer for birds. With both injectable anesthetics (most often ketamine, combined with other drugs, such as Valium or xylazine) and halothane, there was always the very real risk of anesthetic death, usually from an idiosyncratic reaction to a drug, heart problems, respiratory depression or an inadvertent overdose. Problems with halothane included depression of the cardiac and respiratory systems, potential liver damage and heart contraction rhythm problems. Isoflurane (which, like halothane, comes in a liquid) is carefully poured into a precise machine called a vaporizer that controls the amount gas emitted with a dial. The vaporizer is connected to an oxygen source. The gas is delivered through a tube that is connected to a facemask or endotracheal tube (which is placed in the bird's windpipe or air sac).
Isoflurane is the preferred inhalation anesthetic agent for birds. It offers very rapid induction of anesthesia and rapid recovery, and it causes less depression of cardiac output than other agents, it causes fewer problems with heart rhythm problems and it is less toxic to the liver than halothane. A newer gas anesthetic agent, called sevoflurane (UltaneTM, Abbott Laboratories, North Chicago, Illinois), may eventually supercede isoflurane as the gas anesthetic agent of choice for avian anesthesia. While isoflurane already offers rapid induction and recovery, and precise adjustment of anesthetic depth during surgery, sevoflurane offers even more rapid recovery after prolonged surgery. However, an avian surgeon must purchase a new, specially calibrated vaporizer in order to begin utilizing sevoflurane.
When some people think about gas anesthetic agents, they think about those used a long time ago, and often glamorized in old movies, agents like chloroform or ether. Ether is very volatile and flammable, and a spark in the surgical suite could result in serious fire! It was very difficult to control the amount of chloroform being administered, so as safer anesthetic agents were developed, drugs like ether and chloroform were no longer used.
In this day and age, there is no reason for an anesthetic agent to be delivered via cotton ball soaked in anesthesia. All of the commonly used gas anesthetic agents require a precise anesthetic vaporizer to safely and accurately deliver the correct anesthetic dose.
Anesthesia is not an all-or-none process. Anesthesia is provided to a bird to ensure that the bird will feel no pain during the procedure and to provide the degree of muscle relaxation necessary to perform the procedure, yet, the goal is to keep the bird at the lightest plane of anesthesia possible. For example, if the bird flinches when feathers are plucked from the surgical site, it is probably not deeply enough asleep for most surgical procedures. With all anesthetic agents, there is a range of depth, and if a bird is anesthetized too deeply, it may develop cardiac problems, and the centers in the brain for breathing may become depressed, resulting in cessation of breathing. This is why a bird must be closely monitored during anesthesia and surgery.
Since birds have air sacs, the respiratory system is different than that of any other type of animals that veterinarians encounter. Hopefully, prior to performing surgery on a bird, a vet will take additional training in avian medicine and surgery in order to become more proficient. There are many organizations that provide excellent continuing education in avian medicine. If a bird needs to have surgery performed on the beak, or in the mouth area, instead of placing the breathing tube into the windpipe (correctly called the trachea), a tube can be placed into an air sac through a hole made in the bird elsewhere on the body. The oxygen and anesthetic gas can then be administered through the air sac, keeping the beak and mouth free of tubes in order to safely perform surgery there! How cool is that?
An air sac tube can also be placed when a bird is having difficulty breathing due to an obstruction in the trachea or related areas. For example, if a seed is inhaled into the windpipe, it may prevent the air from passing in and out of the bird. If the owner can get the bird to an avian vet immediately, the vet can place an air sac tube, which will usually relieve the breathing difficulty like magic! Air sac tubes can also save a bird that has a fungal lesion in the upper portion of the respiratory tract that is partially preventing normal breathing, for example. Air sac tubes cannot be left in place permanently, but they are useful to aid breathing until the problem can be resolved.
A bird requiring surgery will usually receive general anesthesia. There are several reasons for this. Many local anesthetic agents, such as lidocaine (usually erroneously called novocaine by lay people) that can numb an area, are toxic at doses that provide numbness! Lidocaine must be precisely dosed, and even so, the dose necessary to provide local anesthesia is greater than the toxic dose, in most cases (in small birds). It can be used in tame, large birds, if necessary. Another problem with using a local anesthetic agent is because restraining a bird awake is often very stressful. Signs of overdose with lidocaine may include excitement initially, seizures, depression, respiratory arrest, cardiovascular collapse and death.
Usually prior to surgery (unless it is an emergency procedure), a bird will be given a complete physical examination, including accurate weighing with a gram scale. Often blood work will be performed, including a complete blood count and chemistry panel. Radiographs may be taken. Additional testing for specific diseases may be performed. Cultures may be taken. A gram's stain of the choanal slit and cloaca may be examined. A comprehensive fecal examination may be performed, as well. On occasion, ultrasound may also be utilized prior to surgery. If there is fluid in the coelom (body cavity), a tap, cytology, and culturing may be done.
While a bird is anesthetized, it will receive anesthetic monitoring, usually by a trained veterinary technician, supervised by the vet performing the surgery. Most birds will be intubated (a tube will be inserted into the trachea, or air sac, as we have just learned!) The tube is placed in the glottis, an opening at the base of the tongue. On occasion, especially for short procedures, just a mask will be used to deliver anesthesia.
Many vets now use sterile, clear drapes to cover the bird prior to surgery (available from Veterinary Specialty Products, Boca Raton, FL 33481, phone 561-362-7340), instead of the usual blue or green cloth drapes that we see used in human and dog and cat surgeries. The reason for this is to be better able to observe the bird during the procedure.
The heart rate and rhythm may be monitored with an ECG capable of registering high heart rates, and the monitor should have a freeze function for interpretation. An esophageal stethoscope may be slid into the esophagus of a bird, which is attached to a monitor and amplifier that allows the surgical team to listen to breathing sounds and the heart sounds. An ultrasonic Doppler flow apparatus may be attached to an area over the wing artery of a bird, allowing the surgeon to listen to an audible signal of arterial blood flow.
The bird will usually be placed on some sort of thermal support device. This might be a water mattress that contains warm water circulated by a special pump, or it might be something as simple as a heating pad (although heating pads, even set on low, are capable of causing burns if the bird is not carefully monitored). Special thermal support tables have been developed for use during surgery to keep small patients warm (also available from VSP). Some practices employ a remote-sensing constant readout thermometer that can be placed into the cloaca of a bird during surgery to monitor its body temperature.
The cardiovascular system should be supported during most invasive procedures. This is most often accomplished by placing a catheter in a vein or by placing a catheter into the center of a bone (this is called an intraosseous catheter). Both methods can be hooked up to a bag of intravenous fluids, so that fluid can be dripped into the bird's blood vessels, to replace any fluids lost and to keep the blood pressure up. Unfortunately, it is difficult to measure the blood pressure accurately, especially in very small birds, so this procedure is not usually performed.
While the surgeon will try to prevent blood loss by maintaining absolute hemostasis through meticulous surgery and through the use of specialized surgical equipment, excessive hemorrhage is often a cause of death in the rare case where blood loss cannot be controlled adequately. A blood transfusion may be lifesaving during and after surgery, in some cases. Small birds may benefit from the administration of some intravenous dextrose during surgery to prevent low blood sugar. While blood loss is always a concern during surgery, it is not true that small birds, such as the budgerigar, will die after the loss of one drop of blood! Just to give you an idea, a healthy cockatiel that weighs 100 grams can have 1 whole cc (milliliter) of blood drawn for testing, and a budgie weighing 35 grams can withstand having about .35 milliliters of blood drawn for testing. Ask your avian vet to demonstrate amounts to you sometime, and you'll feel a lot better about potential emergencies involving blood loss.
It is often difficult for the surgical team to effectively monitor the adequacy of ventilation (in essence, the amount of air going into and out of the bird's respiratory system). Blood gasses and the pH of the blood can be monitored, but this is usually performed only in university situations and in large facilities with the equipment to perform these specialized tests.
In spite of closely monitoring the bird during surgery, occasionally mishaps may occur. If a bird stops breathing, the team will usually turn off the gas anesthesia, and supply the bird with pure oxygen. The lungs and air sacs may be inflated by using a special bag to force air into the lungs. CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) may be performed, as well. If it not possible to place a tube into the windpipe of a very small bird, flapping the wings seems to provide movement of some air into and out of the bird, and may help blood return to the heart. This method can resuscitate some small birds. If the bird goes into full arrest, the same drugs (with the exception of the use of lidocaine in almost all cases, for reasons already discussed) that are used in humans and other species of animals can be used to attempt resuscitation.
After surgery, any necessary bandaging will be performed. Once all procedures are completed, the bird should be kept in a warm, quiet area to recover. Most avian clinics possess an avian intensive care unit that provides warmth, humidity and has the capability to supply oxygen, as well. Often, at this time the bird may be given an injection of a pain medication to assist in pain control once it wakes up. Once the bird is beginning to awaken, the tube will be removed from the windpipe. The catheter supplying fluids may or may not be removed. Once the bird is standing, it may be a bit unsteady on its feet for a few minutes, then it will begin looking around, and perhaps preening its feathers. It may examine its incision, but in my experience, a bird rarely tries to remove sutures.
Most avian vets have invested a considerable amount of time, money and energy into becoming avian veterinarians. In addition to requiring a vaporizer for isoflurane or sevoflurane, avian vets usually must purchase special equipment for surgery. Due to the small size of most avian patients (compared with dogs and cats), most vets have been trained to use very precise (and pricey!) instruments developed for use in ocular (eye) surgery. These instruments are quite delicate, and may often need to be replaced or refurbished.
Courses have been offered for years on microsurgical techniques, often taught by famous avian vets like Dr. Gregory Harrison, a pioneer in avian microsurgery. One thing that always made me smile about Dr. Harrison's surgery classes, was that one requirement for taking his course (usually offered first thing in the morning, no less), was that the veterinarians taking the class were not allowed to consume coffee or any substances containing caffeine prior to the lessons. The reason for that is because caffeine can make the hands jittery, which is completely unacceptable when working under a surgical microscope. (However, many of my esteemed colleagues also are very jittery without their morning java jolt!) There are courses that teach the use of the operating microscope, which you have probably seen one of the doctors use on the popular television show, Chicago Hope. When the surgeons on Chicago Hope are peering through an operating microscope, they are usually performing delicate neurosurgery on the brain and not doing delicate surgery on the oviduct of a budgie.
Many hospitals cannot afford an operating microscope, so many avian vets have purchased special magnification loupes in order to better visualize the surgical site. While not essential to perform avian surgery, some sort of magnification is very helpful. Another very useful item is a bright, focused light source to illuminate the surgical field.
We have already discussed clear surgical drapes, which are very helpful in monitoring a bird during surgery. Other specialized equipment, while useful for avian surgery, isn't required. For example, a radiosurgical unit is very helpful. It uses focused radiowaves to cut tissues or coagulate bleeding tissue very quickly and safely. The main purpose for using a radiosurgical unit is to prevent blood loss, and to reduce anesthetic and surgical time, both of which are extremely important during avian surgery. This is quite different than an electrocautery machine that, while able to control bleeding, causes quite a bit of tissue damage in the process, which does not occur when a radiosurgical unit is employed. The radiosurgical unit (the one most commonly used by avian vets is made by Ellman International Corporation) causes very little lateral issue damage (usually just a few cells worth!) Electrocautery units actually burn tissue which can retard healing, and should not be routinely used during avian surgery.
One of the most exciting advances in avian surgery is the availability of several new types of lasers. This equipment can also decrease surgical and anesthetic time, as well as preventing blood loss. Of course, avian vets would require advanced training in the use of this equipment, as well. One of the only limitations to using lasers in avian medicine in the high cost of purchasing or leasing a unit.
Most avian vets own some sort of endoscopy equipment. Way back, when surgical sexing was routinely performed, avian vets would sometimes utilize an otoscope, which is a hand-held device with a light source and a series of plastic cones of varying sizes, for performing surgical sexing. Otoscopes are designed to examine the ear canals of dogs and cats, and while they provided passable visualization of the insides of a bird, light and magnification were less than optimal. While surgical sexing is still occasionally performed, it has been largely replaced by other sexing methods, such as DNA blood sexing and chromosome analysis. However, endoscopy has developed into a very useful field to diagnose and treat many avian diseases.
Many different types of endoscopic equipment are now available to avian vets, and most, while designed initially for use in human medicine, have been adapted to avian medicine. This equipment now provides cool light, magnification, and excellent visibility of the internal organs of avian patients. Scopes are available in very small diameters, allowing an avian vet to perform endoscopy on even the smallest of avian patients. The light is transmitted from a light source through flexible glass fibers, and then to a telescope. The scope usually has an oblique end to it, which allows the avian vet to visualize a larger area inside the bird. Many modifications to endoscopic equipment have been made, and now it is possible to biopsy the liver, kidney or other internal organ with attachments to the telescope. Now, what the avian endoscopist sees, an owner can see, as well, if the scope is connected to a video monitor. This is also an excellent teaching tool for aspiring avian endoscopists. There are several excellent avian endoscopy courses offered all over the world, and they range from basic introductory courses to advanced techniques. Two very good friends of mine, Dr. Michael Murray and Dr. Michael Taylor, often teach wonderful endoscopy courses that are very useful to avian practitioners. They are not only excellent teachers, but they are very amusing entertainers!
If your avian veterinarian has recommended surgery for your bird, it is your duty to become an advocate for your bird prior to signing the consent forms. Of course, if it is an emergency that has brought you to the vet, there may be no time to research the situation, and you should allow the avian vet to proceed posthaste!
You have every right to question your avian vet prior to the surgical event. Some of the questions that you should ask are these:
Your avian vet should not feel threatened by your questions, and in most cases, should be proud to detail any advanced training he or she has had, and he or she should take the time to show you the avian surgical suite and equipment.
If your avian vet has limited experience, but is willing to try the procedure, and you are comfortable with this, using a local avian vet may be the best way to go. However, if there is a chance that the surgical procedure may be very complicated, it might be best to be referred to a university or Board Certified Avian Specialist. You and your avian vet will be best able to make this decision together.
If you feel that your bird would benefit from a second opinion, it is courteous to ask your current vet for a referral to a vet he or she respects, for a second opinion. In most cases, your vet will be happy to send along all of the pertinent information, radiographs, ultrasound results and lab work for the second opinion vet to review. If the second vet concurs with the first, you should return to the first vet for the procedure. If you want to seek a second opinion without first consulting your current vet, it is likely that your first vet will find out anyway, since a competent vet will prefer to examine all of the lab data and information in order to make an educated opinion, and so will need to contact the first vet anyway. This is different than being referred to another hospital that the first vet feels would best be able to handle the procedure.
So, what are the most common surgeries performed today? By far, endoscopy to examine or biopsy an organ is commonly and routinely performed by many avian vets today. The crop may be biopsied by conventional surgery to try to diagnose Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD).
Hens with reproductive problems may also require surgery. If a hen is egg-bound and cannot pass a retained egg, she may require a cesarean section. It is possible to "spay" a hen to prevent excessive, life-threatening egg laying, or to remove a damaged oviduct. This is a different procedure than the one commonly performed on cats and dogs to prevent reproduction. In birds, a portion of the oviduct is removed to prevent egg laying, but the ovary is usually left in place, due to its location near a very large artery. On occasion, a hen may release an egg yolk into her body cavity instead of into the oviduct, and this may require surgery to drain accumulated liquids. In the hands of an experienced surgeon, performing a partial salpingectomy/hysterectomy (spay) is a safe procedure that can be very beneficial to a hen that lays excessive eggs. There is no problem in leaving the ovary in place, since it is the oviduct that adds the white, membranes and shell to the egg.
Fractures of a wing bone or leg bone may require surgery. In small birds, splinting may be all that is required to repair the injury, but in some cases, broken bones may need to be pinned or stabilized by the use of external fixators. Rarely, a limb or toe may require amputation, if it is very infected or has lost blood supply or nerve supply. On occasion, the jaw of a bird may be broken, and this can be surgically repaired.
Crop burns still occur today, unfortunately. These occur when an owner feeds formula that is too hot (usually heated in a microwave, which can create hot-spots in the food). Initially these cases should be managed medically, with appropriate antibiotics, antifungals, fluids and other support care, until all the burned tissue has died and created a scab (usually 5 to 10 days). If surgery is performed too soon, the wound is likely to break apart and re-open. Once a fistula (a hole created when the scab falls off) is obvious, it is time to perform surgery.
Surgery may be performed to remove a foreign body from the gastrointestinal tract of a bird. Many curious birds have plucked an earring right from the ear of their human, and swallowed it! Depending on the location of the earring, it may be retrieved using endoscopy or surgery. Rarely, a feeding tube may be swallowed when a bird is being hand-fed, and this needs to be retrieved.
Feather cysts may need to be surgically removed. These are most commonly found on canaries and parrotlets. As birds age, they may develop lumps and bumps, many of which are fatty tumors, called lipomas or xanthomas. These are usually easily removed surgically. Lipomas are most often seen on obese Amazons, budgies and Rose Breasted cockatoos. Occasionally, cancerous tumors can form, and these may require surgery, based on their location. Parrots with internal papillomas are more likely to develop cancer of the bile duct or pancreas.
Aspergillosis, a fungal infection, can cause granulomas (walled off lumpy masses) inside air sacs, and these are best surgically removed, if possible.
Beak surgeries are commonly performed to correct scissors beak, mandibular prognathism and injuries. In addition to the commonly utilized avian equipment, dental acrylics are usually employed in correction surgery.
Eye surgeries are often performed to remove abscesses. The sinuses may need to be surgically cleared of abscess material. Rarely, an eye may need to be enucleated (removed) for a variety of reasons. An endoscope can be used to examine the choanal slit, cloaca, ears or other areas.
Recently, some avian surgeons have been castrating (removing the testicles) of male cockatoos with chronic problems with prolapsing cloacas. This may help prevent future cloacal problems, and may help with severe behavioral problems associated with hormonal stimulation. Studies are ongoing in regards to the effectiveness of this treatment.
Papillomas, which are wart-like growths that can occur anywhere in the GI tract, can be surgically removed, if they are causing problems. However, these lesions may spontaneously resolve on their own, only to return at another time.
Some cockatoos, especially Moluccans, and other species of parrots, including the quaker parakeet, may mutilate their skin, especially over the keel and crop areas, requiring extensive surgery to correct the defects. Surgery may include sliding grafts, other types of plastic surgery or debridement, a technique to remove dead or infected tissue. Extensive bandaging may be necessary to encourage healing.
Of course, there are many other types of surgical procedures. These are just some of the more commonly performed surgeries. There are new advances and techniques being devised almost daily to save bird's lives and to improve the quality of their lives.
If your bird is about to undergo surgery, I feel that it is very important that you maintain a positive attitude, especially around your bird. Birds are very sensitive creatures and they will pick up on your emotions if you are upset, unhappy or anxious.
If you have concerns about the upcoming surgery, it is important to discuss those issues with your avian vet and family. If you are worried about the financial aspects of the surgery, please discuss this with your avian vet beforehand. Avian surgery is often expensive, but keep in mind that avian vets usually have invested a tremendous amount of time and money in advanced training and specialized equipment.
Once surgery has been performed, see if your vet will allow visitation, should your bird need to be hospitalized for some time after the procedure. Make sure and bring your bird's favorite treats (double check with your vet prior to offering any food items, just in case). Most birds will recover much more quickly if allowed some time to visit with their favorite humans.
Collars to prevent a bird from picking at sutures may be necessary, or the bird may have a bandage. Some sutures will dissolve, others will need to be removed after surgery (usually 5-10 days). Bone pins may need to be surgically removed weeks after surgery and this may require another anesthetic. In some cases, tissue glue may have been used to close incisions, and this will not need to be removed by the vet.
Once you take your bird home following surgery, be sure that you understand all of your vet's instructions. In the excitement of picking up your buddy after surgery, it is easy to forget details concerning home care post-op. If medication must be administered, be sure that you are very clear about the dose, time intervals and drug storage. Not all avian meds need be refrigerated. It is probably best to minimize handling your bird, at least for the first few days after surgery. Make sure your bird is getting enough rest.
If your vet schedules rechecks, make sure that you go in for all follow up exams. This can be a critical part of your bird's care, so don't neglect those rechecks. Rarely, the surgery may not go as planned, and it may be necessary to have a second surgery. In some cases, a tumor may recur after successful surgery. Lipomas may pop up in the same location as the one removed, or they may occur in other areas. In addition to surgery, dietary modification may help prevent lipomas from developing.
As avian medicine advances, we will be better able to care for pet and aviary birds. While many avian vets in practice are developing new and better ways to perform surgery, we must remember that many advances are developed or improved upon in veterinary colleges and universities. All of this takes money, so if you are a member of a bird club or other avian organization, consider working to generate funds that can be donated to invaluable avian research. All contributions can help develop a new technique that just might someday save your bird's life!
Avian surgery, while often a frightening thought to a bird owner, can be very safe and it may offer your pet a new lease on life. Become an educated owner, and you'll have less to fear should your bird require surgery, for we fear what we do not understand!
Copyright © 2006 Margaret A. Wissman, D.V.M., D.A.B.V.P.
All Rights Reserved
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