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A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. An abdominal hernia occurs when an organ or other piece of tissue protrudes through a weakening in one of the muscle walls that encloses the the bird's abdominal cavity. Older female ducks are more likely to develop a hernia as a result of the effects from egg laying, egg binding, or hyperestrogenism. Other less common factors include recent surgery or injury to the area, straining, or abdominal masses.

Hernias develop as a result of muscle weakness and strain, most often associated with egg laying. A duck suffering from a hernia will usually require surgical repair. A delay or lack of treatment can result in the bird traumatizing their abdomen further by rubbing it on surfaces which may lead to respiratory distress, difficulty passing urates and feces, and the entire abdominal viscera moved within the hernial sac. Another serious complication of a hernia is intestinal obstruction, which can be fatal to the bird due to strangulation of tissues.


Bulge or lump
Abdominal swelling
Skin ulceration


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiograph


MethodMethod Summary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own duck "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
SurgeryHernias can be repaired with either open or laparoscopic surgery.

Reported Cases

  • Case 1: Abdominal wall hernia in a Parrot A 38-year-old female yellow-naped Amazon parrot presented with an acute swelling along the ventrocaudal body wall, hematochezia, and tenesmus. Physical examination identified a defect in the ventral body wall. Bimodal pain management was initiated at presentation and hematochezia and tenesmus resolved. Radiographic imaging and contrast fluoroscopy identified a partial cloacal strangulation. An exploratory celiotomy was performed. Adhesions to the body wall were identified and broken down, the cloacal position was corrected, and the abdominal musculature repaired. Contrast fluoroscopy performed 72 hours after surgery confirmed normal positioning of the cloaca. Follow-up examinations documented proper postoperative healing of the hernia repair and maintenance of visibly normal passage of droppings. Ref

  • Case 2: Coelomic hernia in a Parrot An 8-year-old male yellow crowned Amazon parrot was presented for an 8-month history of intermittent regurgitation, anorexia, and lethargy along with a 3-week history of a soft tissue mass cranial to the vent. Examination revealed a small soft tissue mass, approximately 2 cm in diameter, within the body wall of the coelomic cavity with no discoloration of the surrounding tissue. Full body computed tomography (CT) revealed a defect in the body wall on the ventral coelom from the right paramedian location extending to the right side, which contained intestines. Surgical exploration allowed for reduction of the coelomic hernia, which was encased in fibrous tissue and contained a well-vascularized and motile loop of bowel. The hernia sac was excised before closing the body wall in a simple interrupted pattern. Three months postoperatively, the bird was reported to be doing well at home with no further episodes of regurgitation or anorexia. Ref

  • Case 3: Lateral body wall herniation involving the oviduct in a Conure Lateral body wall herniation with involvement of the oviduct was diagnosed in a female nanday conure and a female eclectus parrot. A history of chronic egg laying and chronic reproductive activity was reported in both cases. A subcutaneous mass in the area of the caudal left lateral body wall was present in both birds. Diagnostic imaging (ultrasonography, computed tomography) and cytologic examination lead to the diagnosis of left lateral body wall herniation with involvement of the oviduct. In the conure, a developing egg was contained within the herniated oviduct. Both cases were successfully treated by salpingohysterectomy and surgical correction of the hernal ring. Lateral body wall herniation with oviductal involvement in birds has not previously been reported and should be considered as a differential for birds presenting with masses originating from the lateral body wall. Ref



Risk Factors

  • Middle-aged to older female ducks are most at risk.
  • Sudden weight gain or being overweight
  • Persistent or chronic coughing or sneezing
  • Chronic constipation