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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 29829
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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I have a 15 year old double yellow head amazon parrot. I

Customer Question

I have a 15 year old double yellow head amazon parrot. I recently had his beak trimmed and my vet says there are like 50 small "blisters" on the top of his soft pallet. He wants to do a biopsy. I am so afraid. What could these be and will a biopsy affect his talking. Would a possible surgery? He is not lethargic in any way, is eating & playing as usual. This bird has a hudge vocabulary. I need recommendations. I am looking for a second opinion and don't know who to go to.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Is this common in amazon parrots? If his throat hurt wouldn't I see signs of some sort. He is a box chewer. Doesn't like toys-I give him small boxes all the time, could that have something to do with this? Also he has a good diet of parrot food, raw peanuts and I give him (warm of course) frozen corn & peas & he eats a plate of our dinner (what ever it is) at evening time.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
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Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Anita, before biopsying - which is likely to cause profuse bleeding - Sunny's vet should check a cytology (microscopic exam of the affected soft palate surface). That area is easily sampled. The differential diagnoses for common oral lesions include septic stomatitis, candidiasis, Trichomoniasis, and squamous cell hyperplasia (usually due to hypovitaminosis A which would be unlikely considering how well Sunny is eating). Oral cancers aren't common in Amazons but must always be considered.

I regret that my state board of veterinary examiners doesn't allow me to speak to customers by phone in this venue but other experts in this category may be able to assist you in this regard. Please let me know if you'd like another expert to do so and I'll opt out of this conversation. Please stay in the conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
A microscopic exam would mean they have to put him to sleep to do it? Is that pretty safe? Could you tell me in "laymans terms" what you said could be the problem? Could he have a plain "strep throat"? I am so so worried all this will affect him and his super talking.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

No, it consists of a quick swab of the affected area. Sedation isn't necessary. The swab is then spread over a microscope slide and examined by the vet or our pathologist.

Yes, septic stomatitis = infection of the oral activity by bacteria (such as a strep throat), yeast, fungi, or parasites

candidiasis = yeast

Tritrichomonas = a protozoan parasite

squamous cell hyperplasia = a microscopic change in the cells that line the oral cavity - hyperplasia is a swelling of normal tissue - it doesn't indicate cancer

If possible, an avian vet (please see here: www.aav.org) should attend to Sunny. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you so much, what would be the treatment for this, have you seen it before? How do you give a bird a pill? Is it common? So it could be as simple as a vitamin A defency?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Great, I'm waiting for a phone call. Its very hard to find a good aviary vet in Tucson.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Treatment would be medical in the form of an easily administered oral solution for any of the differential diagnoses I mentioned. As I mentioned above, vitamin A deficiency would be unlikely because Sunny eats so well. If found, however, by seeing the typical changes in his cells, it's addressed with an injection of vitamin A, oral vitamin A either given directly into his oral cavity or in his water.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, so I've got it straight. A simple swab WILL tell the vet what it is? Then why is he recommending a biopsy?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am a retired military widow on SS. This biopsy is going to cost a hudge $1000!
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

A cytology may give you the answer. It might come back equivocal (uncertain diagnosis) and Sunny might still need to be biopsied. I understand your financial constraints. I wish I could be more exact for you but that just isn't possible from here.