MANHATTAN — A tiny surgery on a tiny bird is turning out to be a big deal thanks to the care of Kansas State University veterinarians and the writing skills of a K-State veterinary student who graduated from Andover High School.


A pet parakeet, weighing only 37 grams, was recently referred to the exotic animal services at the K-State Veterinary Health Center by its veterinarian following unsuccessful pharmaceutical treatment for a mass under the bird's tail.


After closer examination at the Veterinary Health Center, it was determined surgery would be necessary to remove the mass, which turned out to be caused by an unusual body wall hernia. A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. Once identified in this case, the hernia was successfully surgically treated by Neta Ambar, former K-State zoological medicine intern, and David Eshar, associate professor of exotic and zoological medicine.


"Apart from the challenges of performing a delicate surgery on such a small bird, it was realized that the uterus — or oviduct — was the organ involved in that hernia, and she also needed to be spayed at the same time," Eshar said. "So far, the bird is doing well at home."


Daria Hagan, third-year veterinary student and 2105 Andover High School graduate, was asked by David Eshar, associate professor of exotic and zoological medicine, to help write a report about the case, which was recently published in the Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine.


The case is believed to be the first to describe surgery on this kind of herniation.


"I am very excited the case report has been accepted and honored that Dr. Eshar provided me the opportunity to write it up," Hagan said. "He was extremely helpful during every step of the process, and this publication is a major steppingstone toward my future career in zoological medicine."


Eshar and Hagan hope the report will encourage consideration of undertail body wall herniation in birds presented with similar lesions in this anatomical location.