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Intracranial Lipoma

Brian Lipoma

Intracranial lipomas are a congenital malformation which occur in 82.3% of domestic ducks with feather crested heads. The feather crest is situated on top of a cushion of fat and connective tissue in the parietal part of their skull (this differs from crested chicken breeds, where their crest is situated on a bony protuberance).

Ducks with intracranial lipomas may be asymptomatic, but most develop clinical signs of central nervous system disturbance, caused by massive deformation of the rostral cerebellum and compression of the cerebellar folia in affected ducks. Some of the most commonly observed clinical signs include:
  • Incoordination (ataxia), which may appear as a tottering walk. If ducks fall on their backs, they aren't able right themselves.
  • Erratic head movements (tremors)
  • Abnormally small eyes
  • Convulsions
  • Twisted or crooked neck (torticollis)
  • Abnormal changes in behavior
  • Inability to stand
The length of time before neurological signs start to develop can vary and can be present upon hatch or may not start to show until several weeks to months later.

Radiographs often show evidence of various cranial deformations and/or atypical ossified structures in the crest cushions.


Abnormal behavior
Head tremors
Head tilt


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiographs - Perforations of various sizes in the parietooccipital calvaria.
  • Computed tomography scan
  • Necropsy - Yellow intracranial masses in the brain.
  • Histologically - Fatty tissue separated into lobules by strands of connective t


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.
SurgeryA craniectomy was performed successfully on a duck by Yaw TJ without any postoperative complications. However, the duck's owners asked for the veterinarian to perform euthanasia on the duck 5 months later because the duck was not interested in swimming in a water enclosure.



Risk Factors

  • Ducks with feather crested heads