At our clinic, we have a variety of diagnostic tools that can help us quickly and thoroughly evaluate your bird’s health.
These tests are essential in helping us diagnose and treat any health issues your feathered friend may be experiencing.
Fecal flotation: Evaluates for intestinal worms and protozoa. Positive tests are rare but can be found in imported birds and birds which are housed outdoors. We recommend testing imported birds and birds housed outdoors. We do not do annual tests as done in dogs and cats.
Giardia: A common flagellate in parakeets and cockatiels. A wet saline mount is performed to screen for Giardia. A fecal trichrome test can also be chosen at a commercial laboratory.
Saline wet mount: is performed to look for flagellates in the mouth or crop, such as trichomoniasis. A swab of the mouth or crop is placed into a drop of saline and viewed under the microscope, similar to the giardia screen. This test is also used to screen for spirochetes in cockatiels.
Gram Stain: A thin smear of stool or mucous or discharge (from ears, eyes, nose, skin, mouth, rectum or internal sample from surgery) which is stained and examined for yeast fungus or bacteria which cause inflammation and illness. The digestive system of a bird easily develops this problem in juvenile birds and adult birds under stress.
Acid-fast stain: This stain is performed at a commercial lab on a fresh poop or on a tissue sample. The stain identifies these mycobacterium bacteria as red staining rods.
Cultures: Samples are taken from the mouth, feces, ear, crop, skin, sinus, trachea, and air sacs. Samples are placed in culture media to try and grow bacteria and fungi. When organisms grow, different antibiotics are tested against the colonies to see which medications will kill the cultures. Cultures can be very disappointing, and I believe cytology samples should be run with all cultures.
Cytology: Samples are taken from the mouth, feces, ear, crop, skin, sinus, trachea and air sacs. Samples are placed on a microscope slide and stained to be seen under the microscope for identification. Bacteria, yeast, fungus, parasites, cancer cells, and inflammatory cells can be identified. We submit all our slides to a pathologist for an expert opinion we can rely on for each patient.
Blood Profiles: Consists of a Complete Blood Count (CBC) and a Chemistry Profile. These are taken without sedation, with a syringe and needle, from the jugular vein, with the client present. This blood test is recommended during times of illness and injuries. We believe this blood test is very good preventative medicine for baseline values when completed every 5 years. This test checks for infection, inflammation, and disease affecting the Liver, Kidney, Heart, Intestines, and Pancreas. White blood cell and red blood cell counts, along with blood parasites, blood glucose, calcium, cholesterol, and protein, are also evaluated.
Protein Electrophoresis: Used to evaluate which protein fractions may be elevated. Elevation suggests infection or inflammation. I use the test the most when I can not identify a problem, but the owner or I suspect something is medically wrong.
DNA Probes: Blood sexing, Chlamydiophila (Psittacosis), Herpes (Pachecos and Papillomas), Polyoma, Aspergillosis, West Nile, Mycobacterium, Mycoplasmosis, Borna Virus (Proventricular Dilatation Disease) and Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease. This test detects DNA fragments in the sample against any of the above-listed probes. I consider the tests to be very sensitive and accurate. A small blood sample or a swab of the specimen is all that is needed.
Radiology: We consider radiographs to be a baseline test along with a blood test to evaluate a patient’s health. We take radiographs of patients the size of finches to swans. We use Mammography film to obtain high detail of these small patients. It takes approximately two minutes to take a side-to-side view and a top-to-bottom view. Large cockatoos and large macaws are sedated with Sevoflurane gas to avoid an accidental fracture of a wing due to their power against physical restraint. If a large parrot is calm, then sedation is not necessary. Some patients are too sick or can not breathe well, and the stress of restraint is too much. It is actually safer for these patients to be sedated for their radiographs.
Ultrasound: Our patients have access to this test with a Board Certified Radiologist who will come to our hospital to perform the procedure. This test can give so much more internal information than a radiograph.
MRI and CT scans: These two highly detailed internal scans are offered at two Specialty Clinics here in St. Louis. We will perform the anesthesia on our own patients during the two tests at these two Hospitals.
Abdominocentesis: A butterfly catheter is used to collect fluid from the abdomen and submitted for culture and cytology. Ascites can be produced from ovarian cysts, pyometra, liver disease, egg yolk peritonitis, air sac disease, congestive heart failure, and cancer of any abdominal structure.
Electrocardiogram (ECU): Used to detect arrhythmias or electrical disturbances with the beat of the heart. ECG machines must be able to record heart rates up to 400 beats per minute (a human heartbeat is 80 beats a minute).
Rigid Endoscopy: Fiber-optic scopes connected to a television monitor can be placed in the ear, mouth, crop, cloaca, trachea, chest, and abdomen of a bird to magnify and visualize these areas for sampling or obtaining a diagnosis.