Service de Médecine Zoologique, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC, Canada
Trauma is the most frequent cause of admission of free-living birds of prey to rehabilitation centers;1,2 however, few studies have described the prevalence and prognosis factors of appendicular fractures in birds of prey. This retrospective study evaluated potential risk factors of open appendicular fractures in birds of prey and investigated prognostic factors for appendicular fractures such as species and fracture characteristics. Outcomes are described based on comparison of surgical versus conservative approaches. Birds were recruited after initial triage. Logistic regression models were used. From 2000 to 2015, 534 birds of prey presented at the Clinique des Oiseaux de Proie (COP) fulfilled inclusion criteria to evaluate potential risk factors of open appendicular fractures (first objective), and 121 birds fulfilled inclusion criteria to investigate appendicular fracture prognosis factors (second objective). Risk factors identified for open fractures in raptors included larger birds and bones with less soft tissue coverage, which appeared more prone to open fractures. Birds treated for open fractures had a release rate (n=24/52, 46%) similar to birds presented with closed fractures (n=32/69, 46%) based on triage criteria (euthanasia of birds presenting extensive devitalized exposed bone, lack of pain perception associated with nerve damage, myasis association with extensive infection, complete tendinous rupture, complex articular fractures and exposed joints) described in the present study. This may result from efficient triage criteria for open fractures that are enforced at the COP. Birds presented with open appendicular fractures should not be systematically euthanized as is sometimes advocated.
The authors would like to acknowledge the interns and residents of the Service de Médecine Zoologique, and the Union Québécoise de Réhabilitation des Oiseaux de Proie (UQROP) for their implication in this study and the countless volunteers and students of the Université de Montréal helping in the raptor rehabilitation program.
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2. Wendell MD, Sleeman JM, Kratz G. Retrospective study of morbidity and mortality of raptors admitted to Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital during 1995 to 1998. J Wildl Dis. 2002;38(1):101–106.