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Tawny Owl

Case study: repair of a tibial fracture in a tawny owl

A young tawny owl presented to Hamilton Veterinary Specialists having been rescued by the team at Wildlife Aid. The owl had been found by the side of a road following an unknown trauma and was presumed to have been involved in a road traffic collision. A right tibial fracture was suspected following initial examination.


Our multi-disciplinary team of specialists anaesthetised and radiographed the owl, with orthogonal views of the right tibia revealing a mid-diaphyseal, displaced, complete transverse fracture. Fracture repair using external fixation was planned, and undertaken, by consultant orthopaedic surgeon Dr David Sajik.

The right limb was plucked and following aseptic preparation, a mini medial approach to the tibia was utilised to expose the fracture site. The fracture was successfully reduced and maintained in position whilst two, 1.1mm threaded pins, were placed in the proximal and distal fracture fragments. The ends of the pins were bent over and incorporated into an epoxy putty ‘free-form’ connecting bar. Routine closure of the surgical site was performed using 3-0 Monocryl intradermal sutures. Post-operative radiographs confirmed perfect fracture reduction with appropriate implant positioning and the owl recovered uneventfully from anaesthesia.


Following surgery, the tawny owl (now affectionately known as ‘Dave’) was returned to the team at Wildlife Aid for his post-operative care, where he continues to make good progress. The latest update that we have received reports that the fractured tibia has already healed, and the frame has been removed as part of the Dave’s ongoing rehabilitation programme. Dave has been moved to a larger aviary ahead of his release and is expected to make a full recovery. Well done Dave!

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