Plating an Eagle's Wing

"Leda" is a magnificent Steppes Eagle who had a very serious accident while flying and broke a bone (humerus) in her left wing. She was brought to Craemill Veterinary Clinic for emergency orthopaedic surgery to repair it.

Avian bones are commonly described as thin and brittle. They have a high calcium content compared to bones of mammals and are more prone to shattering upon impact. Many bones (most notably the humerus and femur) are pneumatic and involved in respiration and humidification of air. All these factors make surgical repair of avian bones a real challenge due to the potential complications that can arise.

On examination of the wing, the fracture was more serious than first expected by the owner. The ends of the broken bones had pierced the skin resulting in an open or compound fracture which has higher risks of infection and healing problems.

A tube is placed into the trachea (windpipe) to deliver anaesthetic gases and oxygen to help her breath during surgery.

A radiograph showing the potentially life threatening fracture of the major bone (humerus) in her left wing.

Leda's amazing wingspan!

A photo showing the nasty break of her humerus involving 3 bone fragments.

The bone fragments have been reduced and secured with orthopaedic wire.

A metal plate and screws have also been secured to the bone to provide extra stability.

All stitched up and ready for post op radiographs (xrays).

Post op radiographs showing the repaired humerus with all the metal implants in place.

Leda came back for a check up 4 weeks after her orthopaedic surgery.

Follow up radiograph of Leda's humerus 4 weeks post operatively showing good healing of the bone. Leda was gradually allowed to increase her exercise at this point and is now back to full flight and can be seen in her full glory at "World of Owls"!