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What is your diagnosis?


A 2-year-old, domestic greylag goose (Anser anser) was presented to the Avian Ambulatory Unit of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-Nigeria, with the complaint of a bulging mass around the vent region (Figs 1 and 2). The goose was from a flock of 5 geese that had been recently acquired within the previous 6 months. The geese were kept in a sandy paddock, without grass, and were fed according to the local husbandry system of dussa (maize bran) and food scraps. The mass was first noticed about 5 months previously by the owner, and it had gradually increased in size.


On clinical examination, the goose was lethargic and unwilling to move. The feathers were ruffled, and a large mass was palpable in the vent region. Straining and watery feces were noticed when the bird attempted to defecate. A ventrodorsal radiograph of the abdominal area revealed a rounded, radiopaque mass in the cloacal region (Fig 3).



The diagnosis was rectal impaction with sand, and surgical removal of the mass was elected. Ketamine (20 mg/kg IM) was administered for anesthesia, (1-3) and the vent area of the goose was aseptically prepared for surgery. A 6-cm longitudinal incision was made over the cloaca to expose the rectum, and another 4-cm longitudinal enterotomy incision was made into the rectum to expose the rectal contents. On incision, dark-green packed sand was observed in the rectum.

The entire rectal contents of packed sand, which weighed 750 g, were carefully evacuated onto a surgical drape. The rectum was cleaned and flushed with 5% normal saline solution. Vertical mattress sutures of 4-0 chromic catgut were used to appose the enterotomy incision, and simple continuous sutures of 4-0 chromic catgut were used to close the subcutaneous tissue. Finally, simple interrupted sutures with 3-0 braided silk were used to close the skin. (4-6) Long-acting oxytetracycline (200 mg/kg IM) was administered immediately after surgery, and the goose recovered uneventfully.

Follow-up of the case revealed that the goose was doing well after surgery. The client was advised on the need to improve the diet and to keep the geese in paddocks with no visible sand or other objects that could be ingested. The client was also advised to construct a swimming pond for the birds that would serve as a watering area.


Ingestion of foreign bodies is a common problem in domesticated birds. Materials such as stones, balls, hardware, sand, and long-stemmed grasses are common offenders. Consuming materials that induce impactions in domestic birds may be caused by primary enteric disease, inadequate feed availability, nutritional deficiencies, stress, and movement to a new environment with a new substrate. (7,8) In domestic birds, 85% of impactions occur in birds under 6-7 months of age, with 10%-12% occurring in birds 6-12 months of age, and 3%-5% occurring in adults. (9) Impaction of the crop, proventriculus, or ventriculus are observed most frequently. (7)

Impactions of the gastrointestinal tract may be acute or chronic and either primary or secondary. The most common clinical presentation is lethargy, distended abdomen, and either small and firm or completely absent feces. Occasionally, affected birds may appear lame or are unwilling to stand. Death ensues because of poor absorption of nutrients, exhaustion due to straining to defecate, herniation, and septicemia. (6)

Although geese are essentially grazing birds, the wealthy people in this area of Nigeria who keep these birds usually raise them on open ground with no access to pasture. This goose had been recently acquired and was fed on dussa and food scraps. The insufficient diet may have predisposed the goose to forage for alternative sources of feed within the immediate environment to meet its nutritional requirements, hence, the ingestion of sand which gradually accumulated in the rectum. Stress associated with introduction into a new environment, the absence of pasture or grass in the paddocks where the geese were introduced, inadequate availability of food, and clearly visible sand in the paddocks may have been predisposing factors for the development of sand ingestion and impaction in this goose. This case is the first known case of rectal impaction with sand in a goose raised on this local husbandry system.

This case was submitted by Ayo Simon Yila, DVM, MSc, Lawal Saidu, DVM, MSc, Adamu Zoaka Hassan, DVM, MSc, PhD, and Paul Ayuba Abdu, DVM, MSc, PhD, from the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (Yila, Saidu) and the Department of Veterinary Surgery and Medicine, (Hassan, Abdu) Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.


(1.) Cornick JL, Jensen J. Anesthetic management of ostriches. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1991;1661-1666.

(2.) Gandini GC, Keffen RH, Burroughs RE, Ebedes H. An anesthetic combination of ketamine, xylazine and alphaxalone-alphadolone in ostriches (Struthio camelus). Vet Rec. 1986;118:729-730.

(3.) Almand WB. Avian anesthesia. In: Kirk RW, ed. Current Veterinary Therapy VI. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 1977:705-710.

(4.) Stewart JS. A simple proventriculotomy technique for the ostrich. J Assoc Avian Vet. 1991;5:139-141.

(5.) Hannas C., Jensen J, Cornick JL, et al. Proventriculotomy to relieve foreign body impaction in ostriches. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1991;199:461-465.

(6.) Gamble GC, Hannas CM. Surgical correction of impaction of the proventriculus in ostriches. Compend Contin Educ Pract Vet. 1993;15:235-245.

(7.) Stewart JS. Ratites. In: Ritchie BW, Harrison GJ, Harrison LR, eds. Avian Medicine: Principles and Application. Lake Worth, FL: Wingers Publisher; 1994:1284-1326.

(8.) More SJ. The performances of farmed ostrich chicks in eastern Australia. Prey Vet Med. 1996;29:91-106.

(9.) Wade JR. Ratite pediatric medicine and surgery. Proc Annu Conf Assoc Avian Vet. 1992;340-353.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:rectal impaction of goose
Author:Yila, Ayo Simon; Saidu, Lawal; Hassan, Adamu Zoaka; Abdu, Paul Ayuba
Publication:Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery
Article Type:Case study
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:Jun 1, 2006
Previous Article:What is your diagnosis?
Next Article:Pathology of Pet and Aviary Birds.

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