Release Rates and Complications for Birds of Prey with Antebrachial Fractures

Release Rates and Complications for Birds of Prey with Antebrachial Fractures

Authors: Claire Vergneau-Grosset, Amy S. Kapatkin, Joanne Paul-Murphy, David Sanchez-Migallon Guzman, Michelle G. Hawkins

From the Service de Médecine Zoologique, Université de Montréal, 3200 rue Sicotte, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC J2S2M2, Canada (Vergneau-Grosset); and the Departments of Surgical and Radiological Sciences (Kapatkin) and Medicine and Epidemiology (Paul-Murphy, Guzman, Hawkins), School of Veterinary Medicine, One Shields Ave, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

We have completed a retrospective case series including 253 free-ranging birds of prey admitted to the CA Raptor Center to describe the treatment and outcome of fractures of the forearm of the wing. Medical records from birds of prey belonging to 21 species admitted with these fractures between 1989 and 2015 were reviewed. Species distribution on admission, treatment, outcome and complications were described by fracture category and species. Among birds presented with the ulnar bone fractured only, those with a closed fracture (bone does not penetrate the skin) were significantly more likely to be released than birds with open (bone does penetrate the skin) fractures. In addition, birds presented with a fracture of the middle of the ulna were significantly more likely to be released than birds presented with a single fracture of the upper third of the ulna.

journal of avian medicine and surgery coverJournal Article Review

Monday, February 3, 2020  

Review of: Release Rates and Complications for Birds of Prey with Antebrachial Fractures at a Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Review By: Rae Porter-Blackwell, DVM, Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital

J. of Avian Medicine and Surgery, 33(4):388-397 (Dec 2019)

Traumatic injuries are one of the most common reasons birds of prey are admitted to wildlife rehabilitation centers. For a bird to be releasable, it must return to normal function. Fractures in birds of prey can be both medically managed with splinting or surgically managed. Choosing a method of management depends on the facility's resources and access to medical care. Fracture location and type can significantly affect the prognosis and chances for a successful release. This paper is a retrospective study from the University of California, Davis and the California Raptor Center that investigated the success and complication rates for antebrachial fractures.

The data from this study were pulled from medical records between 1989 and 2015 and included 253 birds of prey. Fractures were defined by the bones affected, location of the fracture(s), duration of injury, and if the skin was broken. Illnesses or traumas associated (such as a wound with the fracture) and not associated (such as eye trauma) with a fracture were also recorded. The method of fixation was recorded for each bird and included intramedullary pinning, external fixators, bone plating, and splinting. The paper did not include birds that were euthanized due to an assumed poor prognosis or birds with unknown outcomes. Outcomes of birds included in the study were recorded to indicate unsuccessful vs successful.

The majority of the birds included in the study were managed with non-surgical methods of bandaging and cage rest. This paper found that 59% of birds treated medically and 44% of birds treated surgically were successfully released. The study investigated trends in preferred techniques used through time and found greatly varying preferences each year with no overall trend. Additionally, there was no increase in surgical success rate between years despite advances in surgical techniques. Unsuccessful outcomes included non-releasable birds, post-anesthetic complications, complications related to the treatment method, and complications unrelated to the trauma. Interestingly, this paper showed that ulnar fractures were significantly more likely to lead to a successful outcome, especially if it was a middle third fracture when compared to ulnar and radial fractures.