Diagnosis of Fractures in Birds and Follow-Up With Ultrasound

Can long bone fractures in birds be diagnosed using ultrasound?

Fractures of the long bones in birds are usually diagnosed using X-rays. In the case of wild birds, in particular, it is important to restore the physiological biomechanics to ensure suitability for the wild. The authors of the study, therefore, wanted to investigate whether ultrasound can be used to diagnose fractures and whether additional information about the soft tissue involved could be obtained. They also describe two clinical cases in which the surgical reduction of the fracture ends was controlled intraoperatively using ultrasound.

Bone imaging on ultrasound

The authors used deceased wild birds from the orders of owls and hawksbills for their study. They examined the humerus, ulna, radius, femur, and tibiotarsus with a 5-12 MHz linear transducer. In the case of smaller bird species, the authors were able to depict the respective bone in full and measure its diameter. These measured values ​​correspond to a measurement carried out later on the prepared bone. In the larger bird species, the entire bone was not imageable due to artifacts and sound cancellation. Only the cortical near the transducer and parts of the medullary cavity could be shown here. However, in all birds, the fractures could be visualized as a disruption of the hyperechoic cortical bone close to the transducer.

Reduction with ultrasound control

In the two clinical cases, the fracture could also be visualized intraoperatively. Here the authors were able to use ultrasound to check the correct reduction of the fracture ends without opening the fracture. In addition, the correct position of an intramedullary pin introduced during the operation could be determined.

Because bird bones can be visualized in principle, especially in smaller birds, the authors consider ultrasound to be suitable
for monitoring fracture reduction. They also suspect that the healing process can be well evaluated using sonography.

Frequently Asked Question

How can a fracture be diagnosed?

Definite signs of fracture: Shape deviation and axial malposition, abnormal mobility, crunching at the fracture site (bone rubbing, crepitation), pieces of bone protruding from a wound, partial or complete amputation, evidence of the fracture in the X-ray image.

What to do if a bird broke its leg?

As previously mentioned, if a bird has a broken leg or wing, you should take it to the vet immediately. The same applies if the bird is bleeding. You can also visit an animal shelter or bird sanctuary. Call your local municipality, they list these places.

Can a bird survive with a broken wing?

The bone should have healed in a few weeks. But you can also surgically unite the bones, i.e. nail them. This is necessary if, for example, a bird of prey that is trained to hunt has injured itself, because then the wings have to function 100% again after they have healed.

When does a bird need help?

Birds are shy animals and tend to flee quickly if a human gets too close. However, if he continues to crouch or lie weak on the ground, he most likely needs help.

What to do if a cat injures a bird?

In case of injuries or cat contact, please take the bird to a veterinarian. If contacted by a cat, the bird will need antibiotics within 12 hours. 2. If you don’t find any visible injuries, please put the bird in a container and secure it with a towel nest to prevent it from falling over.

How to save a bird?

You can save a bird like that. Bring the little creature carefully to safety and above all: warm the bird. After that, the animal should be placed in expert hands. It may also require medication, since a cat, for example, transmits pathogens through its bite.

Who cares for injured birds?

If the bird is fatally injured, it should be euthanized by a veterinarian. There is also a veterinary emergency service outside of regular office hours. If the bird is only slightly injured, you will need to take it to a veterinarian or wildlife sanctuary.

Can you heal a broken wing?

Sometimes wing injuries and broken bones are so serious that healing is no longer possible despite surgery and wiring.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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