Distraction osteogenesis in two wild raptors

Irene Bueno, Gregory Anderson, Michelle Willette, Patrick T. Redig, Julia Ponder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Distraction osteogenesis was used in 2 wild raptor patients for the repair of tibiotarsal fractures. The first case was a hatching year female peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) admitted with an open oblique right distal tibiotarsal fracture. The fracture was surgically managed with the external skeletal fixator intramedullary pin tie-in technique (ESF-IM pin tie-in). Appropriate healing of the fracture site occurred with the ESF-IM pin tie-in. However, there was significant pelvic limb shortening of the affected leg, and the bird consequently developed pododermatitis on the contralateral foot. The second case was an adult female great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) that was admitted with a closed, partially healed, overriding right tibiotarsal fracture. Because of the advanced stage of this fracture, which presented with a fibrous callus, and the already apparent pelvic limb shortening, the ESF-IM pin tie-in was not used. Both patients were fitted with a circular external skeletal fixator (CESF), and distraction osteogenesis was performed until the length of the pelvic limb was deemed anatomically adequate. It is critical that rehabilitated raptors be released without any physical conditions that may reduce their ability to survive and reproduce in the wild. Pelvic limb shortening can potentially predispose a raptor patient to pododermatitis, even with fatal consequences, in both captive and wild environments. The orthopedic technique used here proved useful to repair the limb shortening in both raptor cases, and each bird fully recovered and was released.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-436
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Avian Medicine and Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the Association of Avian Veterinarians.


  • Bubo virginianus
  • CESF
  • Falco peregrinus
  • avian
  • circular external skeletal fixator
  • distraction osteogenesis
  • great horned owl
  • intramedullary pin tie-in
  • limb shortening
  • peregrine falcon
  • raptor
  • tibiotarsal fracture


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