What is Cloacal Prolapse?

This condition does require veterinary intervention to put the cloaca back into the correct place. Birds that have a tendency to hold their stool in will develop a cloacal prolapse. Many times, birds that have a strong connection, almost an unnatural relationship, with their owners will develop this condition.

Hand fed birds tends to be more susceptible to cloacal prolapse. Mature, domesticated Umbrella and Moluccan cockatoos are also very susceptible to this condition. Cockatoos that have not been bred or hand fed by humans are not affected by cloacal prolapse.

Cloacal prolapse, or better known as vent prolapse, occurs when the inner tissues of the cloaca will protrude from the vent. The cloaca in birds is the common chamber and outlet where the urinary, intestinal and genital tracts open. This will expose the cloaca and the intestines.

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Symptoms of Cloacal Prolapse in Birds

Cloacal prolapse is a serious condition that can lead to other complications. Many times birds suffering from cloacal prolapse will behave normally, making it difficult for owners to realize that there is a problem. Daily physical examinations of your bird are necessary to quickly diagnose and treat any illness. If you notice any of these symptoms, you need to make an appointment with your veterinarian for a definitive diagnosis and treatment.

  • Depression
  • Fluffed feathers
  • Less vocal
  • Tail bobbing or open mouth breathing
  • Decrease in the amount of feces
  • Feces streaked with blood
  • Straining or picking at the cloaca region
  • Intermittent or persistent mass that protrudes from the vent
  • Gas or offensive odor

Causes of Cloacal Prolapse in Birds

The main cause of cloacal prolapse in birds is when there is a long-term strain put on the cloaca or vent. Behavioral and physical aspects can contribute to your bird straining their cloaca. 

Delayed weaning of hand raised and hand fed birds do have a higher tendency of cloacal prolapse. This is usually because your bird will become extremely attached to one person, usually the person doing the hand feeding. Your bird will recognize that person as either their parent or their mate and will hold their feces for a long time, such as overnight. Your bird may also have a misplaced sexual attraction towards the person and this can cause stretching and straining of the cloaca. Excessive crying out for food can also put a strain on their cloaca.

Diagnosis of Cloacal Prolapse in Birds

Your veterinarian will ask you about your bird’s medical history and they will do a thorough physical examination of your bird. During the physical examination, an abdominal palpation will be done, feeling for a mass or any abnormal swelling. A full examination of the cloaca will also be performed. Your bird will need to be put under general anesthesia to complete the examination. 

A cytology culture and a bacterial culture will be performed on the prolapsed tissue. This will help your veterinarian determine the best antibiotic therapy for your bird. Your veterinarian may also recommend a fecal wet mount and a Gram stain to aid in deciding the best treatment options. 

Other tests that may be performed to determine if there are any underlying causes of the cloacal prolapse include a chemistry panel, radiographs, ultrasounds, endoscopic examination and a complete blood count.

Treatment of Cloacal Prolapse in Birds

The first step in any treatment of cloacal prolapse should include a lavage of the prolapsed tissue. The tissue should also be treated with a water soluble lubricant to prevent extreme dryness from occurring. The exposed tissues should be replaced as soon as possible to prevent necrosis or infection from setting in. Your veterinarian will discuss with you the procedure that they will be using to correct the cloacal prolapse.

Temporary Sutures

To prevent the tissue to re-prolapse after correcting the issue, two simple, interrupted sutures are placed across the cloaca. This will allow for the inflammation to reduce and the antibiotics to work without your bird causing additional harm by pushing the cloaca back out.

Ventplasty

When atony of the vent sphincter has occurred with the cloacal prolapse it is necessary to decrease the diameter of the vent. This is done by performing a ventplasty. 

Papilloma Removal

Papilloma removal will be done using radiosurgery, cryosurgery, chemical cautery or laser surgery. After cauterizing the papillomatous tissue, it is very important to keep the area flushed with saline to prevent the normal cloacal tissue from becoming damaged.

Cloacapexy

Cloacapexy may be used if the ventplasty has failed to resolve the issue or the vent diameter and sphincter tone are normal. This procedure only addresses the clinic symptoms of cloacal prolapse and not any underlying causes. Without addressing any underlying cause, whether physical or behavioral, the prolapse will reoccur within weeks or months after the procedure.

Recovery of Cloacal Prolapse in Birds

The success of the treatment or placing the cloacal prolapse back into its proper place will greatly depend on early detection. If the tissue has begun to dry out then the outcome may be grave for your bird. Perform daily physical examinations of your bird to catch any problems as soon as they arise.

If your bird has experienced cloacal prolapse because of their attachment to you, you will need to break the close bond that has formed. Too close of a bond can be detrimental to your bird’s overall health. To break the bond, do not stroke your bird on the back, hand feed or cuddle them close to your body.