Unfortunately, not all animals make it despite our best treatments.
The baby Blue Heron from an earlier post sadly had to be humanely euthanized as it developed several more fractures in the wing we had splinted. We don’t know if it had an underlying disease (ie. metabolic bone disease) or if it injured itself in its enclosure, but the fractures would not have healed well enough for it to fly.
The American Toad that had an obstruction in its stomach recovered well from that surgery (the stomach healed very nicely and she felt well enough to eat a grub on her own!) but she remained lethargic and didn’t pass any stool.
To determine why she wasn’t fully recovered yet, we performed a barium study. A barium study is where you feed an animal a liquid that shows up bright white on x-rays. Serial x-rays are taken and you can see the barium as it passes through various parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
Here is one taken 1 hour after we fed her the barium. The blob on the right is barium in her stomach and you can see it snaking through the intestines to the left.
we continued to take x-rays but after 24 hours the barium became stuck at the junction of the small intestine and colon.
She needed surgery again or she would die. So we went to surgery but unfortunately, the part of the intestine that had all the barium in it was extremely fragile and burst. She would have needed the fragile part of her intestine cut out and the two ends sewn together (called an anastomosis and resection), but we couldn’t find why she became obstructed in the first place.
It was decided to humanely euthanize her as the anastomosis and resection surgery she needed was very risky (high rate of failure) and we couldn’t guarantee she wouldn’t become obstructed again. It seemed unfair to put her through more pain when we couldn’t give her a good prognosis.
However, the Green Herons are doing well and eating on their own, the cygnets have been fostered out to a swan pair, and the hummingbirds are still thriving! Amidst the disappointing outcomes are several more healthy and happy ones!