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Salpingohysterectomy in a hen

Michelle Barrows BSc BVMS DZooMed (Avian) MRCVS

Salpingohysterectomy in a hen

Tess, a 3 ½ year old ex-battery chicken living with three others, presented with a history of irregular laying and polydipsia. She remained relatively bright with a good appetite but on examination was thin with a large firm caudal coelomic swelling and an inflamed vent. A decision was made not to carry out prior diagnostics but to go straight to exploratory coeliotomy, with the understanding that euthanasia under anaesthesia might be necessary.

Tess was anaesthetised with sevoflurane by mask, intubated and maintained with intermittent positive pressure ventilation. Intravenous fluids were provided via a catheter in the median metatarsal vein. A mid-line coeliotomy incision revealed a massively distended oviduct as well as yolk material free in the coelomic cavity. The oviduct was removed using vascular clips for haemostasis and the coelomic cavity copiously lavaged. Active follicles were removed from the ovary and after routine muscle and skin closure, a 9.4mg deslorelin GnRH implant was placed into the caudal pectoral muscle. The oviduct, impacted with layers of necrotic egg material weighed over 700g!

Impacted oviduct during surgery

Tess was kept in intensive care post-operatively with continued antibiosis, analgesia, anti-inflammatories, IV fluid therapy and crop tubing. She started eating a little the following day and was discharged to be nursed by her owner at home 4 days after surgery.

Two months later, her owner reports ‘she is living a full life now, bug-hunting, sunning her feathers, dust bathing and enjoying the new height she can reach if she attains 'lift off' when running and flapping her wings!’

Tess post-operatively – at home and enjoying a dust-bath.

Reproductive problems are very common in hens. Oviduct impaction may occur secondary to salpingitis, adhesions, neoplasia or torsion. Yolk coelomitis occurs when yolk material fails to enter or is expelled from the oviduct and as in this case, often occurs following oviduct impaction or rupture. It causes a severe inflammatory response. Clinical signs can include erratic or no egg production, anorexia, lethargy, coelomic swelling, dyspnoea and death. Diagnosis is based on history and clinical signs. Haematology demonstrating a leucocytosis, coeliocentesis and imaging are helpful. Supportive nursing care including fluid therapy, provision of warmth, nutritional support and anti-inflammatory treatment is essential and coeliotomy is often required to remove yolk material and address the underlying cause. 9.4mg deslorelin implants result in ovarian suppression in the domestic chicken for up to a year, with a mean length of activity reported as 319 days (Noonan et al. Evaluation of Egg-laying Suppression Effects of the GnRH Agonist Deslorelin in Domestic Chickens. Association of Avian Veterinarians Conference Proceedings 2012)