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Budgie surgery? Is it as risky as it seems to me?

Discussion in 'Bird Boulevard' started by Bree, 4/19/12.

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  1. Bree

    Bree Walking the driveway

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    My 12 year old budgie has a tumor on her uropygial/preen gland. :(

    She is on antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory, and then at re-eval the vet will decide if it is operable. I guess I just never thought of a tiny little bird being able to hold up to an operation, but I was surprised that this was a viable option. The vet seemed pretty confident about its safety and said she has successfully operated on zebra finches and goldfish (!?).

    The vet didn't really seem to "hear" my concerns. It didn't seem to make any sense to her to even be worried about it. I don't know if she has just done so many that she is very comfortable with avian surgeries, and I am just totally ignorant of how common and low-risk such surgeries are...

    Has anyone had positive (or not so positive) experiences with the outcomes of birds, especially small/elderly birds, that have been operated on?

    I want to do everything I can for Tegan, but I do not want to do anything that will have the actual effect of lowering her quality of life.
     
    Last edited: 4/19/12
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  2. Lovebird Lady

    Lovebird Lady Rollerblading along the road Avenue Spotlight Award

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    You would think that your budgie's age and small size would increase the risks during surgery. I would be concerned that the vet is not discussing with you the potential risks to this surgery, no matter how few she thinks they are, as I am sure there are some. Did she explain to you what procedure of surgery she would use? You may want to get a second opinion about this. Better to be well informed than regret a decsion later. Wishing your little budgie a good prognosis in any case. Keep us posted. Thinking of you and him
    :hug8:
     
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  3. Ribbit21

    Ribbit21 Rollerblading along the road Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Veteran Vendor

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    I have had negative experiences as a vet tech. One in particular was a 16ish yr old budgies with a tumor. He died during the removal of the tumor. They are very hard to monitor during surgery. It is easy to give them too much anesthesia. In my opinion, surgery on something so small should never be taken lightly and should always be a last resort.

    If it's just a superficial tumor then the surgery might be easier.
     
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  4. Bree

    Bree Walking the driveway

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    Thank you for the good wishes!

    The vet said something about using a laser. I hope that she will be more willing to discuss the pros and cons and specifics at the follow-up visit. I asked her multiple times about the typical outcomes of other small birds that have had surgeries, and all she would really say was that they all have done "great!" She was enthusiastic, I'll give her that, but I really need more specific information. I can't believe that every single avian surgery has gone wonderfully. A second opinion may not be a bad idea!

    Thank you very much for sharing your experiences. It just seems like a surgery would be so hard on such a tiny thing, not to mention recovery.

    It is on the outside of the gland (not inside her body), but it looks (to my uneducated eye) to be "attached" to a fairly large surface area.

    Initially I was trying to be hopeful that it might really be an "easy" thing to get her all fixed up. She is so energetic, cheerful, and otherwise healthy, I would love to just lop the thing off and have her enjoy the rest of her years. The more I think about it, the more uneasy I feel... I would hate, hate, hate to have her go in for surgery and have her go through a horrible/painful recovery period and maybe still not make it. She is such a happy bird, I don't want her to spend her last days suffering. :(
     
    Last edited: 4/19/12
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  5. ronsig

    ronsig Rollerblading along the road

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    I had a 10 year old budgie with a prolapse of the oviduct. The vet operated, and she lived another 5 years.
    But in general, budgies are small and yours is also up there in age. I would do surgery only as a last resort.

    Sigrid
     
  6. Milo

    Milo Rollerblading along the road Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran BINGO BABY!!!

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    The risks with surgery go up exponentially with smaller fids. Most times they use an air sac tube rather than intubating them because of the risk for the tube clogging due to the teeny diameter. Be sure that you fully trust the surgeon performing the procedure, and personally I would only trust a vet that is board certified in avian medicine.

    Milo had a procedure done to root around in his nostrils about two months ago and had to have an air sac tube placed, they had to pluck feathers from his side and he ended up with two of the tiniest sutures I've ever seen. He came out of his procedure just fine, but they also didn't have to go into the SQ layers to perform the procedure. I should mention that he did need two doses of atropine during the procedure for a slow heart rate. In his case it would have been easy for the vet to simply stop the procedure and they could shut off the anesthetic if things really went south, but that would not be the case for your little one.

    Surgeries with exotics, especially birds, are ALWAYS inherently risky. Even if the anesthetic is only for 5 minutes. There are times where the procedure is finished and the animal will pass away during the waking process. It's unfortunately not as uncommon as people think. I'm not trying to scare you, just lay out the facts for you. You need to think realistically about her quality of life and the toll that the surgery will have on her body.

    I know how very difficult it is to be in this situation, there are so many "what ifs" to consider :(
     
    Last edited: 4/19/12
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  7. Ankou

    Ankou Rollerblading along the road Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran Shutterbugs' Best

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    I also think it's strange that your vet doesn't seem willing to discuss possible risks, because there almost certainly are. The positives can definitely outweigh the negatives in many situations but it seems bizarre to ignore the fact that the negatives are even there. (Keeping in mind I don't know how serious your little ones condition is. If the tumor is shallow maybe it isn't too big of a risk compared to other surgeries.) In the end it will really come down to if you really trust this person or not and your budgie's health, comfort, and prognosis now. If in doubt about this vet's opinion you could always try to get a second opinion if avian veterinarians/surgeons aren't uncommon where you live.
    I know some vets try to be positive because they don't want the owner to be terrified or devastated by a diagnosis with a stigma (like a tumor) but frankly I would rather have an honest assessment of the situation.

    My AV and I have recently had a serious discussion about the risk of just sedating Peanut for an x-ray, but also Peanut doesn't have a clear diagnosis like your girl so there isn't any pressing need to risk it. Her major concerns are your own though: size and age.
    A budgie is even smaller and if she is already not in pretty good health I can see it being a fairly major concern.

    Whatever you decide to you I hope you little girl does well. :hug8:
     
    Last edited: 4/19/12
  8. Milo

    Milo Rollerblading along the road Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran BINGO BABY!!!

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    I'm in agreement with Sondra. As a vet they should be prepared to have an open and frank discussion with their clients, especially with the risks of surgery.
     
  9. Bree

    Bree Walking the driveway

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    Thank you for sharing your experience! That is very nice to hear about such a successful operation. How did your little bird handle the recovery process?

    That sounds like a scary procedure that Milo had. I am glad things turned out well!

    I am definitely trying to think realistically about the risks. I have only seen this vet twice before, so I have not developed a relationship/trust with her yet. She is board certified in avian surgery though, so that is good.

    I am uneasy with the low level of concern displayed by the vet as well, but maybe she was in a hurry and figured she would discuss things more seriously after she decided that operating would be her recommendation? I will find out at the follow-up appointment, I suppose!

    I think I will probably get a second opinion regardless of what she says. It just seems like such a potentially risky thing. I want to be very sure it is the best thing for Tegan before I make any decisions.
     
    Last edited: 4/19/12
  10. love4birds

    love4birds Rollerblading along the road Celebirdy of the Month

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    My 52g lovie Nin had his uropygial gland surgically removed last year. I was terrified! But he pulled through like a champ. The only issue we had was afterwards when they went to remove the stitches part of the wound reopened and had to be restitched. After that he healed up great.

    I really had no other option for Nin. He didn't have a tumour, but an impacted uropygial gland that wasn't responding to anything. And we tried everything! But if there was another option left, I would take that before the surgery. Like everyone has said, it is risky.
     
  11. Milo

    Milo Rollerblading along the road Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran BINGO BABY!!!

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    It's a plus that she's board certified, and I think you're being kind giving her the benefit of the doubt. If she was in a hurry, shame on her. You have your appointment time, and it's up to her to clearly explain treatment options so that you are armed with all the facts and can make a decision with confidence. The vets that I work for take great care in client education and I've always been proud of how they are not afraid to lay out all of the options, even if there is potential for negative outcomes (like the risks of surgery). If you feel like you're not being heard at your next appointment, I'd find a new vet.
     
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  12. Monica

    Monica Biking along the boulevard Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran

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    I know exactly how you feel! Trust me! (well, close enough, perhaps?)


    Last year, I put my elderly bourke parakeet through surgery for a tumor on her foot. It had been growing for years and I hoped that the surgery would remove all of it. Here's a picture prior to the surgery.

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    Photos when she was there at the vets office. Any in links may contain bloody content, open flesh, etc, so view at your own risk.

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    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0903/MonicaNFids/The Fids/Budgies N Bourkes/61436878.jpg

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0903/MonicaNFids/The Fids/Budgies N Bourkes/8935e5f6.jpg

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0903/MonicaNFids/The Fids/Budgies N Bourkes/b8ec2c05.jpg


    Apparently, the surgery went smoothly, and she was kept in an 'incubator' where she slept for several hours. Every now and then, someone from the staff would go in and check in on her. She'd wake up enough to acknowledge someone was there, then she'd go back to sleep. I'll admit, that first night I brought her home, I felt as if I had made a *huge* mistake! She looked horrible and I felt awful.

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    But she recovered.. and had her foot bandaged up for a bit to allow it to heal... and she had to figure out how to maneuver around with it.

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    When I took this video, I was ecstatic! She wasn't eating healthy, but she *was* eating! And she was moving around, flying a bit, and really just recovering!




    And then she finally had her bandage removed! This picture shows a bit of the left over bandage on her foot, minus the vet wrap.

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    In short, she healed wonderfully! There was a misunderstanding about her actual age... they had her down at 9 years old, when in fact, she was around 14-16 years old. I got her January of 2002 and was told she was 5-7 years old then. That was 10 years ago now. The surgery was performed August 2011. For all I know, she might be a year older than what I was told, but not even the previous owners could remember when she hatched. I would be surprised if she still lives a couple more years, heck she's still laying eggs! :rolleyes: But yes, she made it through surgery, and no, they did not remove all the bad tissue, so yes, it is growing back, albeit differently now. I don't feel as if I could put her through surgery again, and at the same time, I feel horrible *not* doing it. She's old, and older birds may take longer to recover. No sutures were required since it was laser surgery.

    Oh, and this is the only bourke that my a-vet and her assistant have *ever* seen!




    I would love it if all that would put your mind at ease, but as others have mentioned, there can be complications, and if my experience has taught me anything about tumors, is that if you don't get all of the tissue, it *could* grow back. Is that a risk you are willing to take? If yes, go for it! If not, then consider her quality of life. It's a tough decision to make of what to do, and whatever you decide, you can only hope for the best.
     
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  13. Anne & Gang

    Anne & Gang Riding the Skies Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avian Angel

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    you really do have to weigh the risks....our budgie, Sweety had a renal tumor..(very common amongst the colored budgies) and the vet told us the surgery was very very risky...but he also told us that even with removal of the tumor, it would regrow and the chances of her living another year or so even w ith the tumor removed would be highly unlikely..We weighed all the consquences and decided to take her home, leave her be and she did pass away eventually but she passed away with us, in her home where she was loved....You need to get a second opinion if your current vet is unwilling to tell you all the risks...they are very high.
     
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  14. Monica

    Monica Biking along the boulevard Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue Avenue Spotlight Award Avenue Veteran

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    By the way, here's a couple of updated pictures of the bourke's foot taken 8 months after her surgery (AKA, today, April 20th, 2012). Her nails have a tendency to grow a little long and one corkscrews, and I've got a bandage on one finger, and she also has a bit of blood on her left foot (not sure why), so please excuse the photos!


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  15. ParrotsforKeeps

    ParrotsforKeeps Sprinting down the street

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    I would not like any vet blowing off concerns. However, it may be she was in a hurry, and was just trying to convey that she was confident performing surgery on small birds. There are more risks with them, obviously, but there are considerable risk with any parrot; surgery is never something to take lightly at all.

    My female budgie had a massive and fast growing lymphoma on the underside of her wing that had to be removed several years ago. It was also attached over a larger area, although it was a benign lymphoma, fast growing but not very old so I imagine not too "set-in". Anyway, she did fine, I think I wrote about it on my blog. And thank goodness, we were very worried it would grow back, and then amputating her wing would need to be considered.
     
  16. Bree

    Bree Walking the driveway

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    Thank you very much for sharing your experiences!

    Monica, the picture of when you brought your little one home is just heartbreaking! I am very glad she did recover.

    I will see what happens at the next vet visit, what she recommends and what information I can gather. I have a sinking feeling that I am in for a difficult decision.
     
  17. ~birdybea~

    ~birdybea~ Rollerblading along the road Celebirdy of the Month Mayor of the Avenue

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    I've worked as a vet nurse for a little over 3 years, with the first 3 being in a clinic that saw LOTS of birds and did quite a lot of surgery on the little guys. The budgies and tiels were the most common patients, and tumour removals (preen gland or fatty) were the bread and butter of our bird surgery. We didn't lose a single bird during surgery or recovery. A good nurse on the anaesthetic machine and monitoring does wonders, and it sounds like your vet is very confident. My experience is that a vet who brushes off concerns with bird surgeries is a vet who has a LOT of experience - a vet without that sort of experience is usually very hesitant to go to surgery on the little guys - they don't WANT to do more harm than good.

    The only times i've seen birds die during anaesthetic procedures is when they aren't healthy to begin with, and by that i mean usually elderly with obvious signs of multi-organ failure (liver/kidney) and poor body condition. Not good candidates to begin with, and the surgery is usually only done because the situation has reached a do or die point.

    If your little budgie is in good general health, with good body condition, then i wouldn't be concerned that she's a little older. Gaseous anaesthetics used in vet clinics these days are really safe and birds recover extremely quickly even after quite lengthy procedures. And i'm a firm believer in getting in there with whatever treatment option is best BEFORE it reaches a do or die situation. A healthy bird has an infinitely better chance at surviving surgery than an unhealthy one. :)
     
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  18. BayuCah'ya

    BayuCah'ya Jogging around the block Avenue Spotlight Award

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    My experience is very similar to Belinda's. I've been working in vet clinics for 22 years (I started volunteering at a clinic was I was 11 and have been working in them in one capacity or another ever since), and I have rarely seen otherwise healthy birds - even budgies - die under anesthesia or during recovery. And the few times I have seen it happen, I could point to specific reasons as to why it happened.

    Having said that, I do agree that your vet could stand to have better bedside manners. Even if she is very confident in her abilities, she should listen to your concerns and be willing to address them.

    In summary, do whatever makes you feel the most comfortable.
     
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  19. Bree

    Bree Walking the driveway

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    She is otherwise very healthy, so thank you, this has set my mind a bit more at ease.

    Thank you for sharing your experience from a vet clinic.

    I guess surgery on little birds is a lot more common than I thought! And, hopefully, safer than I thought, too.
     
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  20. southernbirds

    southernbirds Rollerblading along the road

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    Your concerns are valid but do not judge your Vet too harshly. I have seen this attitude with MD'd & Vets & Pediatricians. For some reason they think we are mind readers and should be tuned into their over-confidence & mental frequency when they give advice. We as the patient/advocate have to stand firm and ask them to explain the risks, side effects and recovery process. You have every right to want a more exact explanation. I agree with everyone regarding that. Give her a call and let her discuss it on the phone. You should not have to pay for another visit because you felt rushed. Write out your questions. That is helpful to keep the conversation on tract. Best Wishes!
     
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