Abdominal Wall Reconstruction in a Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2014
Antonia Gardner, DVM; Marisa Bezjian, DVM
South Florida Wildlife Center, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA


Abdominal wall hernias are generally either congenital or acquired. Common etiologies in birds include obesity, endocrine abnormalities, trauma, and intracoelomic masses.1-7 Repair of hernias has been successful in various avian species, although most reports have been in smaller birds with minor defects.4-7 This case report describes the successful reconstruction of a large defect in the left abdominal wall of a wild brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis).

An immature brown pelican presented to the South Florida Wildlife Center with a large abdominal swelling, which was diagnosed as a hernia of the left abdominal wall. An initial unsuccessful attempt at repair found that there was no discernible remnant of the left abdominal wall, suggesting a congenital or traumatic etiology. Two months later, the hernia was repaired using a polypropylenea mesh implant. The absent abdominal wall was reconstructed by tacking the mesh to the linea alba, the epaxial muscles, and around the last rib and pubis. Nonabsorbable polypropyleneb suture was used in a simple interrupted pattern to secure the mesh in place. The subcutaneous tissues and skin were closed in a single layer using absorbable polydioxanonec suture in a continuous pattern. Post-surgically, an infection developed in the subcutaneous tissues at the surgical site. Exploration of the area confirmed that the mesh was not infected and was incorporated into a healthy granulation bed. After removal of infectious subcutaneous exudate, the patient recovered quickly and exhibited normal behavior in an outdoor enclosure. Three months later, the pelican was released off the east coast of south Florida.


a. Polypropylene (Prolene) nonabsorbable synthetic surgical mesh; Ethicon, Inc., Somerville, NJ, USA
b. Polypropylene (Prolene) nonabsorbable surgical suture; Ethicon, Inc., Somerville, NJ, USA
c. Polydioxanone (PDS-II) absorbable monofilament surgical suture; Ethicon, Inc., Somerville, NJ, USA


Thanks to Avery Bennett, DVM, MS, DACVS for his assistance with this abstract.

Literature Cited

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2.  Carlson HC. Case report—abdominal hernia in turkey poults. Can Vet J. 1962;3:263–264.

3.  Chiba A, R Honma, M Toyama, M Watanabe. Abdominal hernia in a Northern Pintail Anas acuta as revealed by necropsy, radiography, and X-ray computed tomography. Ornithol Sci. 2007;6:137–140.

4.  Jahromi AR, SD Nazhvani, S Haddadi. Ventral abdominal hernia in a common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)—a case report. Vet Arhiv. 2009;79:621–625.

5.  Langlois I, MP Jones. Ventral abdominal hernia associated with hepatic lipidosis in a red lory (Eos bornea). J Avian Vet Med Surg. 2001;15:216–222.

6.  MacWhirter P. A review of 60 cases of abdominal hernias in birds. In: Proc Annu Conf Assoc Avian Vet. 1994;27–37.

7.  Smolec O, J Kos, D Vnuk, T Babec, NB Bottegaro. Abdominal ventral hernia in a pigeon (Columba livia): a case report. Vet Medicina. 2009;54:291–294.


Speaker Information
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Antonia Gardner, DVM
South Florida Wildlife Center
Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA

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