Cloacal prolapse is when the inner tissues of the cloaca protrude from the vent, exposing the intestines, cloaca and/or uterus. The cloaca is comprised of compartments: the largest is the coprodeum, the smallest is the urodeum, and the proctodeum. The coprodeum is responsible for communicating with the distal colon, the urodeum communicates with the distal ureters and oviducts or vas deferens and the proctodeum is opens to the outside body through the vent. Cloacal prolapse is most related to excessive straining due to excessive sexual stimulation, but can also be due to diseases relating to the cloaca. Prolapsed tissues can include the cloaca, oviduct, colon, small intestine, phallus (waterfowl), and/or granulomatous/neoplastic masses.
Gastrointestinal – infection, inflammation, obstruction, neoplasia, prolapse, dilatation
Reproductive – obstruction, prolapse
Renal/Urologic – obstruction
All species, more common in female birds.
Symptoms (these are also symptoms of various cloacal diseases)
Change in posture
Cramping rectal pain
Passage of fresh blood, often in feces
Decreased fecal production
Picking or excessive grooming around the vent
Blood or urofeces on the feathers or skin around the vent or on the beak
Intermittent or persistent prolapse of tissues through the vent opening
Causes and risk factors
Cloaca – Spinal trauma, osteomyelitis, neoplasia, Prudenal nerve trauma, neuritis, Peripheral neuropathy, Excessive sexual behavior
Oviduct – Egg binding, Salpingitis, Oviductal neoplasia, Chronic egg laying, Excessive sexual behavior
Colon – Colitis, Cloacitis, Neoplasia, Intestinal impaction, Intussusception, Intestinal parasitism, Granulomatous disease, Megacolon, Excessive sexual behavior
Intestine – Trauma, Intussusception
Phallus – Excessive sexual behavior, Inflammation of the phallus tip
Treatment and Prognosis
Home treatment is not recommended as this condition is extremely painful and the underlying cause cannot be addressed without veterinary diagnostics.
- Clean prolapsed tissue with saline, being as gentle as possible – if any tissue looks infected or necrotic, seek out a vet immediately as re-insterting the tissue can b extremely harmful.
- If prolapse is large, plain table sugar can be applied to help reduce the swelling and inflammation. Coat very liberally.
- Lubricate prolapse liberally before gently pushing back in.
- Keep the bird in a warm, dark, clean environment to decrease the likelihood of egg laying, allowing time for the prolapse to heal.
- If the prolapse does not heal with home treatment or reoccurs frequently, seek out a vet immediately as retention sutures are more than likely needed.
Prognosis is fair to guarded – recurrence and complications are common. Birds should be retired from breeding.
Blackwell’s Five Minute Veterinary Consult – Avian
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