than 200 g,as in many common avian species.However,some of the smaller species,eg,the average 30-gbudgerigar,may not yield enough plasma for completebiochemical analysis.Modified techniques in the labo-ratory,such as the use of 10-µL microhematocrit tubes,pediatric sample cups,and dilution,can extend the sam-ple and allow more data to be collected.In the United States,many exotic animal practition-ers perform venipuncture using a needle that has beenheparinized with injectable sodium heparin to preventclot formation.Experienced avian veterinarians workingwith experienced restrainers,who minimize trauma tothe vessel wall,can collect a high quality sample withoutthe addition of heparin.Reducing the amount of heparin in the sample is desirable when using automat-ed hematology analyzers,such as the Cell Dyn 3500(Abbott Laboratories,Abbott Park,Ill) because of adecreased coefficient of variation of the WBC count
aswell as decreasing potential dilution and assay artifactin a biochemical sample.If most of the heparin isexpelled from the needle hub,it will minimally affectthe sample.However,the amount of heparin actuallyretained may vary among samples.Any dropletsremaining may cause dilutional effects as well as inter-fere with some analytical tests,such as sodium andalbumin.
Samples for biochemical analyses should beplaced into lithium heparin Microtainer or Vacutainertubes (Becton Dickinson,Franklin Lakes,NJ,USA) filledto the appropriate volume to avoid variable clotting timeand gelling of serum.Avian plasma samples frequently are yellow due tocarotenoid pigments,not bilirubin.
Pink or red plasmais usually indicative of hemolysis.When working withsmaller species of birds,tuberculin or insulin syringesare frequently used,however,not all of these syringeshave detachable needles.Ejecting blood through a 25-gauge or smaller needle may cause moderate to markedhemolysis that will invalidate many biochemical analy-ses.
Attached needles can easily be cut from the syringeusing a pair of large veterinary nail clippers or scissors.Insulin syringes also are available with detachable nee-dles.The collection and handling of avian blood areimportant for obtaining accurate results.Discussionwith the practitioner about appropriate materials,venipuncture technique,and sample handling can sig-nificantly improve the quality of the sample and there-fore the result.
Renal function and osmoregulation
There are marked differences in renal function andosmoregulation among mammalian,avian,and reptilianspecies.The avian kidney lacks a renal pelvis and dis-tinct demarcation of cortical and medullary regions ongross examination.
There are 2 distinct types of nephrons in birds: the mammalian-type nephron andthe“reptilian nephron”.The reptilian nephron has a lessconvoluted glomerulus and lacks a loop of Henle.Mam-malian-type nephrons are located more deeply thanreptilian types.Urine flows from the distal tubules tocollecting ducts to the ureter that empties into the uro-deum of the cloaca.Although individual nephrons inavian species have low glomerular filtration rates(GFRs),there are more nephrons per kidney in birdsthan in mammals,such that overall GFR is similar.Studying blood flow to the avian kidney is difficultdue to the complexity and inaccessibility of the renalvasculature.
Therefore,a reduced avian kidney modelwith a single arterial supply and accessible renal veinhas been used.This model has limitations,however,inits ability to accurately assess blood flow and clearance.Up to 50% of renal blood flow comes from the ischiacand external iliac veins that comprise the portal system.
The percentage of portal circulation filtered by the kid-ney varies with species,stress,and temperature.Portalcirculation is of significant clinical importance wheninjections or intravenous fluid are administered in theleg or lumbar region,because medication will be trans-ported directly to the kidneys and filtered,magnifyingany nephrotoxic effects and preventing adequate med-ication from reaching the site needing treatment.The avian kidney filters a large volume of fluid(approximately 11 times the entire body water each dayfor a 100-g bird) and then reclaims most filtered waterbytubular reabsorption.
The GFR decreases with dehy-dration,and with injection of arginine vasotocin,theavian analog of mammalian antidiuretic hormone.
Avian kidneys shunt blood from reptilian- to mam-malian-type nephrons when GFR is decreased,increas-ing a bird’s ability to concentrate urine.
The ability of the avian kidney to concentrate urine appears to varyinversely with size,ie,smaller birds have a greater abil-ity to concentrate urine.
Osmoregulation in birds is accomplished by contri-butions from the kidneys,intestinal tract,salt glands,and,to some extent,the skin and respiratory tract.
Urine can be actively retropulsed from the urodeum tothe coprodeum of the cloaca and then to the rectum andpotentially the large intestine,where water can be reab-sorbed and electrolytes can be modified.
This affectsthe specific gravity,electrolyte concentrations,and bac-terial contamination of urine.Uric acid is the major nitrogenous waste product of birds.It is hypothesized that this evolved due to ovipar-ity.
Embryonic and fetal development occur within a
Vol.31 / No.3 / 2002
Veterinary Clinical Pathology