Ventriculotomy and Post-Surgical Management of Ventricular Diverticula in Captive Parakeet Auklets (Aethia psittacula)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2007
Karen Wolf1,2, MS, DVM; Ryan De Voe2, DVM, MSPVM, DACZM, DABVP (Avian); Laurel Degernes1, DVM, MPH, DABVP (Avian); Robert MacLean2, DVM; Debbie Zombeck2, MS; Ken Reininger2, BS
1Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA; 2North Carolina Zoological Park, Asheboro, NC, USA


Three parakeet auklets (Aethia psittacula) at the North Carolina Zoological Park were evaluated independently for weight loss, lethargy, abnormal buoyancy, and dyspnea. Survey radiographs revealed enlarged stone-filled ventriculi. Ventriculotomies were performed to remove the foreign bodies. Due to multiple adhesions, the ventriculus of the first bird was inaccessible through a ventral midline incision, necessitating a left lateral approach. The koilin layer appeared irregular with multiple embedded stones. The bird died shortly after surgery and a ventricular diverticulum was discovered at necropsy. Because the diverticulum was composed of mature granulation tissue with minimal inflammation, it was hypothesized that it gradually developed from weakening of the ventricular wall due to contractions of the stone-filled ventriculus.

The two additional birds that developed clinical signs also underwent ventriculotomies using similar surgical procedures. The birds were premedicated with butorphanol (2.0 mg/kg, IM) and anesthetized with isoflurane. A 2.7mm 30° rigid laparoscope, passed through a ventral midline incision, was used to visualize the ventriculus; a ventricular diverticulum was identified in one bird. Stay sutures were placed in the ventriculus or diverticulum, and the ventriculus was elevated to the incision. An incision into the ventriculus/diverticulum and endoscopy allowed for removal of the stones with forceps. The ventriculus and the body wall/skin were closed in a simple interrupted pattern using 5–0 PDS and 4–0 PDS, respectively. Postoperatively, the birds were treated with sucralfate (75 mg/kg PO BID), ranitidine (2.0 mg/kg IM BID), enrofloxacin (15 mg/kg PO SID), terbinafine (10 mg/kg PO BID), and meloxicam (0.5 mg/kg SC SID). The birds were gavage-fed Hill’s a/d® (Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., Topeka, KS, USA) (3% body weight) for several days following surgery. Both birds showed improvement and remain asymptomatic.


The authors thank the North Carolina Zoological Park’s alcid husbandry staff Nicole Hauch, Sarah McRory, and Nicole Petersen. We are grateful for the technical support of Julie Osborne and Christine Poindexter (College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University) as well as the North Carolina Zoological Park’s veterinary technicians. Special thanks to Philip Ruckart (Biomedical Communications, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University) for his video editing expertise.


Speaker Information
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Karen Wolf, MS, DVM
Department of Clinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC, USA

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