Avian Education

Education is KEY to the Dr. Nemetz's mission and his goal for The BIRD Clinic and his clients. This section will form a list of various topics excluding case reports, The BIRD C News handouts, and news events to further expand the "human avian brain." Enjoy.

The AAV conference is held in August of each calendar year. It is a worldwide conference presenting current papers on all aspects of avian medicine and surgery. The following sections will contain lectures from the advanced and main conference programs in a continual goal to elevate the knowledge base for our clients and website visitors.

Dr Nemetz apologizes but the work to review and transcribe these articles were much more involved than expected so only two years were finished, however, there are many articles including some Dr Nemetz published that are still valid today so please explore them.

Advancements in Avian Medicine and Surgery developed at The BIRD Clinic Veterinary Corporation (newly added August, 2017)

1987:   "Spaying" of birds or more correctly termed Salpingohysterectomy is the process of removing the entire oviduct in birds. At The BIRD clinic, Dr Nemetz removes the entire oviduct which includes the infundibulum, isthmus, magnum and uterus (shell gland). This is important because if any portion is retained it can lead to pathology in the future. Over the years this procedure has been continually modified and improved and can be accomplished in birds as small as finches and as large as ducks with a very high success rate and much lower risk than in the past. This procedure does NOT remove the ovary so there is still potential for pathology of this organ but only prevents the laying of eggs and formation of cancer of the oviduct.

2005: "Endoscopic flushing of toxic foreign bodies". Surgical endoscopes are used to enter body cavities and in birds often used to retrieve foreign objects that birds have swallowed but are toxic. The problem is that one can only remove one object at a time so if a bird swallows 10, 20 or even 100 objects the risk becomes extremely high because of anesthesia time and trauma. Dr Nemetz developed a flushing technique for a cockatoo tha swallowed 75 zipper teeth that contained toxic zinc. A custom flushing tube is passed from the crop to the ventriculus (gizzard) and then the pieces are "flushed" out. After it appears all the pieces are removed the scope is entered and used to verify that all the objects have been removed in addition to radiographs to verify. Until 2013 this technique could only be performed on birds over 200gms but many of our patients that swallow bad objects are under this weight. So in 2013 Dr Nemetz created a research project to develop a technique for the smaller species. It took a year to find a scope with a biopsy channel that was small enough and cost $8,000+ the various grasping instruments. Then it was used on a cockatiel, peach faced lovebird, and a fischer's lovebird to remove seed particle. All was a SUCCESS!!! The fischer's lovebird was so cute that after the project Dr Nemetz kept him as a pet, his staff named him "Slushy" and he lives at the clinic full time.  Since then many smaller birds have benefit and lived because of this procedure. Dr Nemetz has lectured on this procedure in Paris in 2015 and hopes the word gets around so many birds do not have to die because they accidently swallowed a toxic object.

2005: Testicular neoplasia in birds had been generally terminal. Surgical attempts mostly failed and the most common species affected were budgerigars. Many veterinarians including Dr Nemetz tried different surgical procedures but they consistently failed. Then in this year a long term client came in with a budgie that was 9years old with a lame leg that Dr Nemetz had seen since it was a baby. It was discovered on radiographs that the bird had a testicular tumor that was pressing on the sciatic nerve. Dr Nemetz had an idea of using lupron which is used for prostate cancer in men to lower the testosterone level in the bird and perhaps shrink the tumor as it does for the prostate in humans. The client was willing since the option of surgical success was very slim. A protocol was developed and the bird was monitored by radiographs. The response was amazing with the lameness resolving within 48hrs and the testicle shrinking gradually over a 3 month period. The bird was monitored continually until its death at 13 years of age at which time no evidence of the tumor could be found.    

In 2009: Dr Nemetz presented a paper at the Avian Conference to demonstrate his findings in several species with various testicular pathologies so that other patients could be helped by this very safe treatment plan. The key was to diagnose the condition early through radiographic evaluation and then to follow the protocol outlined in the literature. There has been better than 85% overall success at resolving the pathology if the tumor has not metastasized or is not of testicular origin.

2008: It was discovered that removing the oviduct in birds did not solve ovarian problems, but does one remove the ovary in a bird when it is directly over and attached to the central aorta of the heart?  Many veterinarians have tried over the years without success or the death of the patient from bleeding. A client came in with a conure tht was feather picking right over the ovarian area. Endoscopy was performed and a cystic ovary was discovered, but how does it get removed without killing the patient? Dr Nemetz called his uncle, a medical surgeon, for advice and found there was a newly approved titanium vascular clamp used in brain surgery that was smaller (2mm) than anything that existed before. Perhaps this would be small enought to clamp off the ovarian vessel to prevent the bleeding problems seen in the past. The client knew the high risk but elected to go ahead. It took 3 months to acquire these special expensive clamps and the surgery was performed. It was a grand success, the ovary was removed, and the bird stop picking. Years later when the bird passed away it was brought to Dr Nemetz and he verified the ovary was gone and only scar tissue remained. At the same time personally owned a Swainson Toucan "Saffron" that had several issues for a few years that was found to be all caused by a cystic ovary so it needed to be removed to save her life. After the success of the conure, Saffron had surgery christmas day 2008 with much trepidation but also with much hope for a second success. A very large polycystic ovary was discovered and the same technique was performed as in the conure. It was a success and Saffron responded amazingly fast and did well for several years.     Since then, the technique has been fine tuned multiple times as many other species were in need of it and it was discovered each ovary is quite unique even within a species and can have several different types of pathology. This new surgical procedure has been life giving to many of the BIRD Clinic patients and their owners. It is still a very technical surgery with risk but the benefits have been overwelmingly positive and to our knowledge Dr Nemetz is the only veterinarian in the world that has been able to successfully repeatedly remove an ovary (Oophorectomy) from various exotic birds species.


AAV 2003 Conference Part I - Advanced

Highlights of the nine hour Avian Speciality Program on the feather picking patient. This is essential homework for all clients that own feather picking pet birds. It is an excellent overview of this frustrating symptom in birds.

AAV 2003 Conference Part II - Main

Highlights of the 402 page proceeding of the 24th Annual AAV Conference. Discussions include West Nile Virus, heart disease in birds, DNA technology, and new surgical procedures.

AAV 2004 Conference Part II - Main

Highlights of the 392 page proceeding of the 25th Annual AAV Conference. Discussions include updates on WNV, Pacheco's disease, PDD, poisons, and behavior.

(reviewed Dec 2016)