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Successful, Full-Thickness Skin Graft in a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Kane, Lauren P., Shrader, Trenton C., Stice, R. Coleen
Journal of avian medicine and surgery 2019 v.33 no.2 pp. 184-188
Haliaeetus leucocephalus, adults, antibiotics, birds, debridement, drug therapy, head, juveniles, males, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, pain, patients, skull, stifle, tissue repair
A subadult, male bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was evaluated after being found unable to fly, with large eschars on the dorsal head and right stifle. Because of the appearance and location, the lesions were believed to be caused by an electrical injury. Treatment included oral antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, pain medication, surgical debridement of the eschars, and trephining of the affected inner table of the cranium. A full-thickness skin graft was performed to expedite wound healing and minimize holding time. After 6 weeks, the bird had new feather growth on its dorsal head and was released. This is the first report, to our knowledge, of a nonmesh, full-thickness skin graft in an avian species. Full-thickness skin grafts should be considered as a surgical option in juvenile or adult avian patients with large dorsal head wounds.