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Am J Vet Res. 2012 Mar;73(3):353-60. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.73.3.353.

Evaluation of a fracture pain model in domestic pigeons (Columba livia).

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Département de Sciences Cliniques, Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire, Université de Montréal, St-Hyacinthe, QC J2S 7C6, Canada.



To validate a model of postfracture pain in perching birds.


21 adult domestic pigeons (Columba livia).


In each bird, a standardized osteotomy of 1 femur was performed and the fracture was immobilized with an intramedullary pin. Degree of postoperative pain was evaluated 6 times/d for 4 days by use of 3 methods: an electronic perch for assessment of weight-bearing load differential of the pelvic limbs, 4 numeric rating pain scales for assessment of pain (all of which involved the observer in the same room as the bird), and analysis of video-recorded (observer absent) partial ethograms for bird activity and posture. Measurements obtained were compared with data collected before the surgery to evaluate the ability of these methods to detect pain.


The weight-bearing load differential was a sensitive, specific, reliable, and indirect measure of fracture-associated pain in the model used. Two of 4 tested pain scales (fractured limb position and subjective evaluation of degree of pain) were sensitive and specific for detecting pain and were reliable in a research setting. Interobserver reliability of the 4 pain scales was excellent. Partial ethograms were sensitive for identifying pain-associated behavior in pigeons, particularly during the first 2 days after surgery.


The fracture pain model was reliable and reproducible and may be useful for experimental studies involving postsurgical pain in pigeons. Weight-bearing load differential was the most sensitive and specific means of determining degree of pain in pigeons during the first 4 days after hind limb fracture induction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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