On the morning of September 5, Dr. Ernesto and licensed veterinary technician Leigh-Ann took Bald Eagle HK to surgery. Critter Cam viewers were able to watch the events on cam!
Leigh-Ann anesthetized the eagle and both she and Dr. Ernesto prepared the surgical site – plucking feathers all along HK’s injured leg. The bird received pain medication prior to surgery, and a catheter was placed to deliver fluids during the surgery. After the bird was prepared, he was taken into the Center’s operating room for the procedure.
Dr. Ernesto placed five pins in HK’s leg, above and below the fracture site. After the pins were placed, two external stabilizing bars were attached to the pins on either side of the leg to offer support to the eagle as he heals. The bars were anchored in place with acrylic. Once the bars were firmly in place, each was wrapped with protective vet wrap. Dr. Ernesto was pleased with the surgery overall.
The entire fixation will stay in place for at least two weeks; then radiographs will be taken. If all is healing well, a “dynamic destabilization” will take place, which means that portions of the apparatus will be removed slowly. If all goes well, it will take about five weeks for HK’s leg to heal entirely. After the leg is fully healed, the bird will be moved to an outside enclosure and then will need to be re-conditioned in a large flight pen.
A video of the surgery, edited by Congowings: