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Cockatiel Lower Beak Split into Halves

Should Nibo get this surgery?

  • yes

  • no


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bernarderr

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Hello,

I have a very lovely girl called Nibo, she is less than 3 years old and eager to be around human.
Unfortunately she had a beak injury for several months. Initially there was a line on the surface of her lower beak, and 2 months later the injury got worse with bruise and chip on the lower beak, and very recently the lower beak was split into halves... I'm now very much devastated.

Timeline
I sent her to vet multiple times from the beginning but could not stop the whole process and we honestly did not expect things can be bad like today.
When we discovered the bruise and chip (the second phase), the vet did pain management, cleaning and used glues to make sure the beak is stable.
However a month later which is very recently when the glue fell off, the wound was already terrible and seems healing did not happen, the beak was thin and there's a big concave (the pre-third phase)
I sent her to the vet, and when the vet tried to use glue again, things failed and the beak was split into halves (the third phase as of now)

Now
I got referred to a bigger hospital and I sent Nibo there the next day, and we put Nibo to medical boarding so the doctor can monitor and see if she is able to eat with that beak.
It has been 2 days, and I got update that Nibo learned to eat millet seeds, which means she potentially can live like a "normal" bird.
Meanwhile the doctor educated me with a possible surgery, but he's lean toward letting Nibo be this way if she turns out to be fine.

Surgery
The surgery is to have a needle to penetrate through the lower side of the lower beak, then use wires to wrap around on the outside and use the needle as support so that the two halves can be put together tightly, and the tissues can reconnect and heal for several months. The problem is that the wound of Nibo is months old, the tissue won't heal. We potentially can freshen up the wound but there's only such case with large birds and the doctor cannot guarantee this can work on smaller bird as well.

My concerns that need suggestions / opinions from people
Sorry for the long context, but here's the struggle I'm having: should Nibo have this surgery or not?
She's been through so much and I feel so bad for her, if she can live happily like a normal bird with that beak, why should she have this surgery when the doctor is not totally positive?
We've been tracking from months ago and we cannot find what caused such injury, so what if this is bound to happen to her because of her DNA / habit / micro-motion, this tragedy may happen again even if the surgery works?

But what if she does not have this surgery, can more potential harm happen to her because of the bad beak?

Does anyone has similar situation (I really hope no one has experienced such heart-breaking incident)?

Here's an angel-like photo of Nibo from the last year, she has been playing an important role to my mental health.
 

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Pixiebeak

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Can you show the beak spilt?

Was an x ray done to see if the mandible bone is fractured/split??

If the wound isn't healing, I would be worried about infection getting into the bone ..

I've seen some bad break's and beak injury heal remarkably. But without facial bone fractures, those did require intervention
 

bernarderr

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Thank you @Pixiebeak

I unfortunately don't have the image at this time since things happened so fast.... the lower beak is completely into halves, similar size for each half.
I have not thought about xray, I shall bring this up with the doctor and see if they would do the xray.

During the second phase, we did find infection / bacteria around the beak, and the vet gave her anti-biotics, but the wound did not heal and I wonder if it's because the glue covered it up preventing the healing. I can bring this up with the doctor as well (altho the doctor has her medical records, but he never mentioned this...)

I don't care much about the cost, I want the best for Nibo.
The doctor is trying to figure out if she's able to eat pellets, if not she may have trouble with nutrition.
 

Pixiebeak

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You and the vet are there and know more than we do . I'm just sharing experience I've had.

I'm sorry you guys are dealing with this . I know you just want your baby fixed up.
 

WillowQ

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I would hope the split would heal if the edges of beak were opened and wired to be in close proximity to each other. The bird will need pain meds and antibiotics, too, while the beak heals.
Otherwise it will be hard for her to eat unless she is fed soft food. It seems like it’s possible to eat without part of the upper beak but not without the lower beak.
i would try to find a university hospital where they have done some similar work so the vet who does the surgery will be coming from a place of knowledge, not just guessing.
 

Emma&pico

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Just wanted to wish you both all the best I hope you and your vets find some answers
 

bernarderr

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I would hope the split would heal if the edges of beak were opened and wired to be in close proximity to each other. The bird will need pain meds and antibiotics, too, while the beak heals.
Otherwise it will be hard for her to eat unless she is fed soft food. It seems like it’s possible to eat without part of the upper beak but not without the lower beak.
i would try to find a university hospital where they have done some similar work so the vet who does the surgery will be coming from a place of knowledge, not just guessing.
Thank you for this... the vet has success cases of the surgery with cockatiels but with fresh wound, and success case with large birds like cockatoo with old wound where they had to freshen up the wound before the wiring. Nibo's case is in the grey area, he cannot be sure if this can work on my baby.
Honestly, if the vet says this can work and is confident, I think the answer is obvious to me that we need that surgery...
I live in bay area of California, maybe I need to research more and see if there's any hospital around can do this surgery confidently.
 

bernarderr

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Update about Nibo:

Nibo does not eat pellets at this time, maybe because she does not like it, or she does not know how to it.
She does not like veges, and if she does not eat pellets, I'm worried about her health in the long run
 

bernarderr

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Meanwhile does anyone has a recommended cage for birds with special needs like this? Currently I have the prevue flight cage and bars are vertical, but I feel this cage is no longer a fit for her
 
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WillowQ

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Thank you for this... the vet has success cases of the surgery with cockatiels but with fresh wound, and success case with large birds like cockatoo with old wound where they had to freshen up the wound before the wiring. Nibo's case is in the grey area, he cannot be sure if this can work on my baby.
Honestly, if the vet says this can work and is confident, I think the answer is obvious to me that we need that surgery...
I live in bay area of California, maybe I need to research more and see if there's any hospital around can do this surgery confidently.
With that info, I would go for it. There’s no real difference in surgery on a larger parrots beak than a smaller beak. Of course they will have to reopen the wound before it will have a possibility of growing together. But if this vet has done similar surgeries a number of times, then why can’t they repeat that success?
and she is a young bird and has a lot of life before her. She will be quite compromised for all of her life if you don’t do this AND if she can’t learn to eat a more complete diet.

could she be fed pellet mash and not have the surgery?
Is there enough lower beak remaining to join the halves?
This surgical procedure will be painful and unpleasant but it will make her life much better in the long run.
 
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bernarderr

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Update about Nibo:

Doctor says she starts to eat pellets, and the weight is kept good at 97 grams.

Meanwhile I get some new info about the surgery:
- If we freshen up the wound, it's possible there's no blood supply, then healing won't happen, it's also possible the wound gets worse after freshening
- doctor says the breaking area is relatively weak even on healthy bird beak, plus there may be tissue missing, so another potential result is the beak can breakup again even it heals after the surgery
- since we need to open up the wound for the surgery, Nibo needs to be anesthetized instead of sedated, and the death rate of the former is roughly at 15%
- since the wound is already old, there's no difference if we do the surgery now vs we do it a year later if we find that necessary

The doctor recommends that Nibo stay this way instead of intrusive surgery that may not work since they claim that Nibo can be a normal happy bird even with that beak.

My thoughts:
- the 15% death rate does scare me
- the fact that the beak can break again even after the surgery also scares me, but what if given proper care not to let her use beak hard, can it be stronger as time goes? this will be my question to them
- Everything about this surgery scares me, but there're so many years ahead of her, I do want her to have a good life without compromise


I'm attaching a photo of her in medical boarding yesterday and her beak, please don't be scared
 

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bernarderr

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After talking to my family and my friends, I think we don't want to risk her life or getting worse condition knowing she can do fine currently.

Friends, you are welcome to express your thoughts
 

WillowQ

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I think if she’s eating enough to maintain weight then there’s no hurry at all.
I’ve been concerned about how much that mandible can take.

i had a medically fragile bird who did well for years with supplemental soft feedings in afternoon and evening.

i hope she does well. Maybe you could feed high potency formula for extra calories?
 

Pixiebeak

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That does look like the bird can learn to manage. Hopefully the wound can heal and your wonderful vet can give you tips in how to keep the crevice clean .

Yay on weight and learning to manage food.

Thank you for sharing your journey, I hope we get many happy updates .
 
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