Gizzard impaction - X-ray confirmed. How to proceed?

wemimew

Chirping
Apr 17, 2019
150
154
93
Day 16. Moe was doing well thismorning but I decided to push her vet appointment for her next X-ray ahead because I honestly felt that this was more than just a gizzard impaction. Things were just not right even though she was improving. I took her for a (very long) drive to an avian specialist this time who seemed to know his stuff. Everything that I have written here was mentioned and he felt that prognosis really was not good and that this was most likely not going to end well. He agreed that things in her abdomen had been moved around and that X-rays were needed. They called me later on after they had done it (had to leave her for an overnight stay due to time and school runs) and in short said that there was a mass near the ovaries and something else large where the liver was. I knew from day one that this was probably cancer but it really hurt to hear it - I love my babies. We had a chat and there really was nothing I could do to save her so agreed that euthanasia was the best option. To rule out Mareks or other contagious diseases they are going to do a necropsy on her and will let me know their findings when I go down there to bring her home for a burial.
This honestly is the worst part about owning chickens. My poor little Moe - I’m heartbroken that I couldn’t save her, it seems like every time you think to yourself ‘I know what I am dealing with - I can fix this’ you get thrown a curveball. I will make another post tomorrow summing up my treatment for the impacted gizzard (that was working really well) to hopefully help someone else out that has this problem. I will also post my necropsy results.
 

Katniss_Everdeen

Songster
Nov 24, 2020
164
458
111
Australia, QLD
I am so sorry. You tried so hard to save her, you did everything in your power. It is not your fault some things cannot be fixed. You are a good chicken owner and you clearly love your chickens so much. You also wrote a very good recount of your experience and while little Moe could not make it, you may have helped save other people’s chickens that had similar problems, just by writing such a detailed report. Again, I am so sorry for your loss. Little Moe is in a better place now.
 

thepick4uchicks

Songster
May 23, 2020
1,004
1,685
236
Mississippi
Day 16. Moe was doing well thismorning but I decided to push her vet appointment for her next X-ray ahead because I honestly felt that this was more than just a gizzard impaction. Things were just not right even though she was improving. I took her for a (very long) drive to an avian specialist this time who seemed to know his stuff. Everything that I have written here was mentioned and he felt that prognosis really was not good and that this was most likely not going to end well. He agreed that things in her abdomen had been moved around and that X-rays were needed. They called me later on after they had done it (had to leave her for an overnight stay due to time and school runs) and in short said that there was a mass near the ovaries and something else large where the liver was. I knew from day one that this was probably cancer but it really hurt to hear it - I love my babies. We had a chat and there really was nothing I could do to save her so agreed that euthanasia was the best option. To rule out Mareks or other contagious diseases they are going to do a necropsy on her and will let me know their findings when I go down there to bring her home for a burial.
This honestly is the worst part about owning chickens. My poor little Moe - I’m heartbroken that I couldn’t save her, it seems like every time you think to yourself ‘I know what I am dealing with - I can fix this’ you get thrown a curveball. I will make another post tomorrow summing up my treatment for the impacted gizzard (that was working really well) to hopefully help someone else out that has this problem. I will also post my necropsy results.
Day 16. Moe was doing well thismorning but I decided to push her vet appointment for her next X-ray ahead because I honestly felt that this was more than just a gizzard impaction. Things were just not right even though she was improving. I took her for a (very long) drive to an avian specialist this time who seemed to know his stuff. Everything that I have written here was mentioned and he felt that prognosis really was not good and that this was most likely not going to end well. He agreed that things in her abdomen had been moved around and that X-rays were needed. They called me later on after they had done it (had to leave her for an overnight stay due to time and school runs) and in short said that there was a mass near the ovaries and something else large where the liver was. I knew from day one that this was probably cancer but it really hurt to hear it - I love my babies. We had a chat and there really was nothing I could do to save her so agreed that euthanasia was the best option. To rule out Mareks or other contagious diseases they are going to do a necropsy on her and will let me know their findings when I go down there to bring her home for a burial.
This honestly is the worst part about owning chickens. My poor little Moe - I’m heartbroken that I couldn’t save her, it seems like every time you think to yourself ‘I know what I am dealing with - I can fix this’ you get thrown a curveball. I will make another post tomorrow summing up my treatment for the impacted gizzard (that was working really well) to hopefully help someone else out that has this problem. I will also post my necropsy results.
Hello,
I am so sorry about your Little Moe. You both were such fighters through all of this difficult illness. You and Moe were simply awesome. You set the example bar for caregivers of sick chickens very very high. Which of us has a microscope at home to identify oocytes or worm eggs in case I didn’t spell that right for coccidia??? I mean really. That’s pretty awesome. Are you a medical technologist? Or a Vet Tech? RN, doctor? You just don’t sound like the run of the mill average chicken keeper. You are definitely knowledgeable and have given Moe’s care your all and she had the very best in you as her owner and keeper. She is flying high over the Rainbow bridge now in peace and no pain now Mama. You did good.
 

wemimew

Chirping
Apr 17, 2019
150
154
93
Thank you everyone for your kind words - I really do hurt when I loose them - but that just means they brought me a lot of happiness so I find peace in that thought. She wasn’t suffering - with exception of that one really bad day - which always makes the decision harder, it would not have been far off though and I didn’t want that for her. As for the microscope - I got frustrated with having to go to the vet all the time to do a crop wash/ smear and tell me what was wrong so I taught myself lol. I don’t have a degree or any specialist education, just an interest in avian health (I have my whole life since my first pet budgie as a kid). It’s already paid for itself with Moe alone to get her though the last couple of weeks.
 

thepick4uchicks

Songster
May 23, 2020
1,004
1,685
236
Mississippi
Thank you everyone for your kind words - I really do hurt when I loose them - but that just means they brought me a lot of happiness so I find peace in that thought. She wasn’t suffering - with exception of that one really bad day - which always makes the decision harder, it would not have been far off though and I didn’t want that for her. As for the microscope - I got frustrated with having to go to the vet all the time to do a crop wash/ smear and tell me what was wrong so I taught myself lol. I don’t have a degree or any specialist education, just an interest in avian health (I have my whole life since my first pet budgie as a kid). It’s already paid for itself with Moe alone to get her though the last couple of weeks.
Well you have definitely educated yourself well in avian health. You should be proud and also you do a good job with proper means of documentation. I worked in medicine for close to thirty years before I had to take disability. I know what I’m talking about. You’re good.
 

wemimew

Chirping
Apr 17, 2019
150
154
93
Thank you everyone for your support - it really meant alot to me. I spoke with the vet this evening and got an update on the necropsy results - it was the right decision. She had tumors in her liver, kidneys, proventriculus, intestines and pancreas. Her liver was also 3-4x its normal size. She had a small grass impaction in her crop but my guess is that is just material that could not pass through because of all the obstructions. Her gizzard was also hugely impacted with grass material. Her abdominal air sacks were all but collapsed from what I understood from the mounting pressure on them. The oviducts and the rest of the organs were as expected.

Mareks was ruled out and the vet has taken pictures of everything and will give me a copy when I go to collect her body. They are also confident that what she had was not a threat to the rest of the flock and that I need not worry about it - it was an unfortunate play of genetics. I will still be careful though - the grossly enlarged liver is concerning and I will close my flock for at least a year to see how things play out.

The tumor growth over the last week was quite aggressive in hindsight - it literally moved the position of the enlarged gizzard towards the vent over 4 days, which was also the same time the respiratory struggles started. This probably also accounts for why nothing was seen on the first xray, it was not a good xray by any means but we should of been able to see at least some of this - so it may have grown exponentially over the two weeks of treatment I gave her in chicken hospital. Everything kind of adds up. The frustrating ordeal I had with coccidiosis with her was also probably attributed to the cancer, her body was not in a position to fight it off (it has been very wet here - so there would of been sporulating oocysts absolutely everywhere) and she was dependent on the medications to get rid of it. The fluid that started collecting in her airsacks was probably the beginning of the end and untreatable because her organs would of been ready to fail (my guess is the kidneys caused this). The mucous covering her poops were probably caused by the tumors/associated inflammation in her intestines, this also explains why they were often so narrow (though does not explain the improvement at the end). I am not 100% sure of the function of the pancreas but think it has to do with digestive enzymes - which explains why her poops were always such a deep green color - I was under the impression it was colored that way from the plant material. The cancer in the kidneys may have caused the irregularity with the urates - some droppings had a nice white cap on them, others were a watery urate mess. The cancer in the proventriculus would of stopped her crop from emptying as it should and caused it to back up. The cancer in her intestines would of stopped the gizzard from emptying and caused a backup there. The weight loss - while probably mostly caused from the blockages, would of been accelerated by the issues with the liver and her bodies inability to process and store fats (a month ago she was quite the heavy little girl), she had very black skin and eyes so unfortunately I was unable to see if she was jaundice and there was no evidence of bilirubin build up from her droppings (probably because they were so green - if chickens even show that).

I find it amazing - she had all this going on and only had one day where I was convinced she was in pain. All the other days she was actively walking around, hunting for bits and pieces, attacking anything that dared step onto her patio and acting like her normal self. In hindsight - her normal self may very well have been sickly and because it was her normal way of being - it did not strike me as odd. Even though she did have sass - she had never been a hyperactive girl, even as a chick (which is not uncommon) and I never saw her running around playing - she had more of a 'I'll come to you when I'm damn well ready' attitude and would ignore me and anyone else over the other more interesting things getting about. For reference though - her poops in the past were completely normal and healthy looking, this was the first time she had ever seemed ill - three weeks ago she had a bill of perfect health.

I will make a final post for this thread when I have the pictures and xrays in hopes it helps someone else out in the future. I will also make a post about clearing a gizzard impaction tomorrow when I have a little bit more time.
 

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