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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Egg-citing Cases

Much of the workload for a veterinarian is pretty routine.  We see numerous cases of vaccines each day, do spays, neuters, and dental cleanings almost daily, and even see the same kinds of medical cases over and over.  I can't tell you how many skin problems and ear infections I see every single day this time of year!  To the clients it's a big issue, but to us it's just another day at the office.  Even the species and breeds can become routine and rather boring.

But every once in a while you get something different.  And because I'm willing to see most species of pets, I tend to get some more exciting cases.  It's especially fun for my staff, as they get to see things with me that they haven't seen with most of the other vets around them.  For example, I neutered a rabbit last week.  To me this was mildly exciting, as I only get to do a few of these per year (as opposed to the hundreds per year of dog and cat neuters).  But most of my staff had never seen surgery of any sort on a rabbit, so it was fun for them.

Today was another case.  I saw a sun conure for sudden lethargy.  Anyone who knows birds quickly learns that a sick bird is REALLY sick because early symptoms are often difficult for the owner to notice.  It didn't take me long to feel this bird's abdomen and realize that she was "egg bound".  She had laid several other eggs recently, and apparently one had become stuck inside her.  This can happen in birds who have a calcium deficiency in their diet, or are laying too many eggs in a short period of time.  The oviducts loose their ability to contract and the egg becomes stuck.  This is a very serious and life-threatening situation.

Thankfully, most of the time it can be treated, at least in the short term.  I anesthetized the bird and tried to milk the egg out of the cloaca (the shared urogenital opening that birds and reptiles have).  Unfortunately, it wasn't budging.  So I stuck a needle into the egg and extracted most of the contents.  This allowed me to compress the egg to make its diameter smaller, allowing me to gently pull it out.  The bird recovered well, and will hopefully be doing much better over the next couple of days. 

I've done this procedure before, but not often and not in a few years, so it was interesting to me.  But my staff were really egg-cited about it!  (Yeah, sorry, couldn't resist the pun).  In fact, my staff was so engrossed in watching me that I had to remind my techs that there was a room ready for them to start on.

It's always nice when something different comes through the doors.  So much of what we do is SSDD (Same Stuff, Different Day) that some variety helps to keep us interested.