Author Topic: Broken Beak  (Read 8113 times)

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Offline SnowcapLove

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Broken Beak
« on: January 10, 2013, 04:02:37 PM »
Hi All!

I have a 10 year old female white capped pionus.

I just today noticed her mandibular beak is cracked. A talked to a vet who said that even though the crack is small now, it will likely get bigger and reach the jaw bone.

I am a vet tech in a small animal clinic, and have no issue taking her in for surgery if that is the only option. However, the surgical estimate is $653. It seems a bit absurd to me, seeing as where I work, I've seen much more extensive surgeries on much larger animals been done for that much. The vet explained to me that they would be attaching a wire around the mandible to secure it and keep it from cracking more.

The costs are as follows:
Office Comprehensive Exotic Exam: $70.17
Bird: Beak Repair Surgery: $376.13
Metacam of 10% 1/4oz (Bird/hamster): $18.99
Metacam Injection (Exotic): $26.99
Ketamine/Valium Ind: $74.01
Fluids: Surgery (Exotics): $10.25
Isoflourane/Per min. 25: $69
Acrylic Patch/Wire: $20
Hospitalization IV: $58.23

Total: $723.77

It seems a bit absurd to me. $74 for ket/val!? We charge half that for dogs, which use 3cc or more! $70 for less than a half hour of anesthesia? And they're charging over $300 for the actual surgery, and then add the patch and wire into the cost. Seems a bit of a rip off; one would think the $300 for the surgery would cover the tools for the surgery.

Granted, I have never worked for an avian hospital, and I don't know anything other than what these people tell me. So before I go spend almost a grand, I'd like more experienced opinions.

I've attached pictures of her (she doesn't like the camera, though her angrily opening her mouth made for nice pictures).

Like I said, I have no problems getting the surgery done if that's what's needed, however, the cost to me seems absurd.

Currently she's acting normally, eating fine, climbing on her cage fine as well. I have no idea what caused this.

Offline maxsmom

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Re: Broken Beak
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2013, 05:13:53 PM »
Sorry about your WC. I dont know where you are located, but the total cost could be worse. I assume you are going to a ABVP vet. Real expertise is worth it. I hope your bird recovers soon as does your wallet.  How did the crack happen? What type of diet?
She flies with her own wings. Oregon State Motto

Offline SnowcapLove

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Re: Broken Beak
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2013, 06:05:25 PM »
I live in Baltimore. I've contacted another vet in the area to compare prices. The only reason I really have an issue is that I know they're ripping me off on that ket/val, and that bothers me. I'm also perplexed why I'm being charged for materials used in the surgery; one would think the procedure cost would include those. I'm also wondering if the other vet was right in that it will continue to crack. She compared it to a toe nail cracking, however, toe nails do not always continue to crack, so I was confused by that as well. It seems to make sense that the crack may grow out and heal on its own, with the original crack needing to be trimmed back as it grows out.

I don't know how the crack happened. She eats Zupreem Fruit Blend http://www.zupreem.com/our-food/birds/fruitblend%E2%84%A2-natural-fruit-flavors-premium-daily-bird-food and Vitakraft Fresh Super Fruit Cocktail http://www.petco.com/product/6330/Vitakraft-Fresh-Super-Fruit-Cocktail-for-Parrots-and-Cockatiels.aspx.

She is caged but the cage is always open (the door to the room she's in, my bedroom, is always closed). My thought is maybe she flew into a wall or something; she's not the most graceful bird, though I would think the upper beak would be cracked in that case. She is full feathered because I have dogs and I want her to be able to escape if by chance the dogs, well, decide to be dogs. They are never around her unsupervised.

Are there any supplements I can give her in the meantime to promote beak health? She's been on this diet for the past 10 years without issue. She's not a fan of real fruit or vegetables; I tried to introduce them but she didn't want them. The only thing she ever showed interest in was a carrot, and she didn't eat it, she just shredded it.

Offline Dartman

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Re: Broken Beak
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2013, 07:27:42 PM »
Well welcome to the game of any type of health care, 10 bucks for a tylanol at some hospitals? And agreeing to take less then a third of their normal charge from a insurance company then making us pay the difference? I hope when you get to be a vet you work to get rid of some of the bonus round money they try to make off us
Anways that spot looks nasty but could be a lot worse I think. I hope you get a better place to fix her up and she recovers fully poor thing. Maybe you need to let the first place know you have a good idea what most of their meds and services costs and aren't maqde of money
My vet was willing to work with me last time Nerd bird got sick, and for that matter so was my hospital the last time I had issues and was broke so talking honestly about the situation can help.
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Offline Jan

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Re: Broken Beak
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2013, 07:57:07 PM »

If there is a hairline crack traveling down to the base on the lower beak then it certainly will not heal itself so a repair would have to be made.  I know, anything avian seems to be high in costs. I'm not sure myself on what all is involved in repairing the crack - I do see how her lower beak could use some truing up along the edge but they may not want to do that until the repair is completed. 

I agree it seems high in price for sure a small thing but like I said anything avian related on birds seems to come at a high cost.  If you have another good avian vet in your surrounding area then you could perhaps get another opinion to see but that would cost you another office visit cost.
Jan



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Offline SnowcapLove

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Re: Broken Beak
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2013, 08:02:56 PM »
No plans to be a vet, been in the field long enough to know that ;). Though an HMO-type system would be a nice way to change things up; but then, we all know how well that works in human medicine.

I'm not terribly concerned about the price, but more so that I'm being ripped off. I have only worked with dogs, cats, and the occasional rabbit and ferret. I have no knowledge of the workings of exotic vets and their prices, but I've worked at 3 different hospitals, and it's unfortunate that I know how things are usually priced. I don't mind paying for experience, but there's no amount of experience that makes me feel the need to pay twice as much for supplies/medications than they usually retail for.

Offline SnowcapLove

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Re: Broken Beak
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2013, 08:11:49 PM »

If there is a hairline crack traveling down to the base on the lower beak then it certainly will not heal itself so a repair would have to be made.  I know, anything avian seems to be high in costs. I'm not sure myself on what all is involved in repairing the crack - I do see how her lower beak could use some truing up along the edge but they may not want to do that until the repair is completed. 

I agree it seems high in price for sure a small thing but like I said anything avian related on birds seems to come at a high cost.  If you have another good avian vet in your surrounding area then you could perhaps get another opinion to see but that would cost you another office visit cost.

I'm surrounded by avian vets; the unfortunate thing is finding one that's worth it. The one I first asked about is apparently well-known and respected, and ABVP/AAHA certified, which is great. I trust their opinion. I wish I knew more about avian medicine to make a more informed decision. With my dogs, I can know when a vet is knowledgable and when they're clueless, but I don't know how to judge avian vets like that.

I've tried searching the web for similar injuries but haven't found much. Is this rather uncommon as far as beak injuries go?

Offline Cetan

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Re: Broken Beak
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2013, 09:59:26 PM »
I had to have surgery done on one of my budgies who suddenly had a huge mass on his abdomen, it literally happened overnight. Luckily ot was a sebaceous cyst. Bit the surgery was about 260 and I think the anesthesia was about 65 of that. Putting birds under anesthesia can be tricky especially budgies. My vet is not an Avian board certified vet but she has lots of bird experience and is really good and I like her cageside manner. You might want to check with a few other avian vets for a second opinion

Offline maxsmom

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Re: Broken Beak
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2013, 02:59:31 AM »
Interesting.  I know the area.  I don't think there are a lot of ABVP vets in the area but AAV vets to my knowledge.  The ABVP I know of in the area is about an hour from Baltimore and I would pay his fee to get excellent care.  I think some of the fees for true avian vets can be high just like at a hospital for a person but what I am concerned about is the true expertise in resolving my bird's health concern. So it is the overall picture for me.

Good luck in resolving your bird's beak crack. I wonder if after the procedure if the vet will recommend a calcium supplement.
She flies with her own wings. Oregon State Motto

Offline momazon

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Re: Broken Beak
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2013, 07:13:13 PM »
Sorry to hear of this misfortune. I was trying to put myself in your place, and some questions came to mind: If the ket/val is the only issue you have, and you think the charge is double the norm, as you indicated, that is still only less than $40.00 The way it was explained to me is that the administration of avian anesthetic is more important than with mammals, so I wonder if the extra 37.00 charge could be for administering the ket/val in a special way.

Not to defend a vet I do not know, but I do know my own avian vet a little and I have seen her neighborhood.  She is not doing nearly as well as someone with 12 years of college should be. 

Maybe you could discuss it with the vet or office manager and ask them to meet the price you were quoted by the other vet. Then there is  question of permanent injury. Jan says it will not heal, so I would take that as the final word.  What will the quality of life be without treatment?  Those are just the questions that pop up to me.  Best of luck, she looks like a very nice bird.

Offline SnowcapLove

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Re: Broken Beak
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2013, 09:38:20 PM »
A friend of a friend of mine works for a zoo, and they take there animals here: http://seavs.com/

I'm planning to give them a call tomorrow. They're a little over an hour away, but they seem to know they're stuff (but looks can be deceiving). They'll be the third vet I speak with. I'm just trying to make an informed decision here.

So far, she seems fine. Still eating great, still acting normally. One of the vets I work with, while she does not practice with birds, did tell me that as long as the crack is not a hairline fracture down to the jawbone, the beak should be able to grow out on its own. She advised me to watch it over the next few weeks to chart its growth or observe if it continues to fracture.

She's not what you'd call the 'nicest' bird, but she does enjoy my company and neck scratches. I have no doubt her demeanor will change if she was in pain (she was a grumpy birdie after I trimmed one of her nails back a little too far).

So I'm going to talk to these specialists and see what they say. At the end of the day, I'm willing to pay for expertise; I only want the best of the best for her. I really wish I was more knowledgeable about avian medicine. I feel so lost in a field where I normally know so much.

Will keep you posted with what the specialists say!

Offline maxsmom

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Re: Broken Beak
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2013, 04:19:38 AM »
Yes, to my knowledge Dr Stahl is the only ABVP vet in area since Dr Zantop died last year. He is only vet I would take my bird to in a crisis in the greater DC metro area. Good to think about the whole thing as paying for expertise. Note that Dr Stahl has a pionus of his own. Best wishes.
She flies with her own wings. Oregon State Motto

Offline GinnyW

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Re: Broken Beak
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2013, 02:11:41 PM »
Avian vets are expensive. When my greencheek conure got scratched by the cat and ended up with a bacterial infection, it cost me about $600 between visits, bloodwork, and medications.  Too bad you can't just use some super glue.  My middle sister, who's a hair stylist, uses super glue all the time to close up cuts she gets on the job from scissors.
Here are a couple links with good information:
 
http://www.avianweb.com/brokenbeaks.html - With a minor beak injury, supportive care, appropriate antimicrobials and pain medication and time to heal may be all that is necessary until the defect grows out. With larger injuries, light cured composites or dental acrylic can be used to patch the area until the beak grows back.

http://www.thebirdclinic.com/Services_Offered/Beak_Reconstructive_Surgery/

So...where would you get dental acrylic to use on the beak to hold it together until it grows out?   :EmoticonDoctor:  Hope this all works out for the best!

Offline GinnyW

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Re: Broken Beak
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2013, 02:18:09 PM »
Here's another good link:  http://www.prettybird.com/researcharticles/beakarticle.htm
This one talks specifically about using a "visible light" acrylic that does not heat up while curing.