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Intracranial Lipoma

The Crested Duck (Anas platyrhynchos f dom) is a fancy breed of domestic duck which possess a distinctive ball of soft feathers on the top of their heads, forming a crest. The crest is positioned somewhat to the back of the skull. Some of the ducks from this breed are born with skull-bone defects within the caudal portion of the cranium. The size of the duck's cerebellum, apical hyperpallium, tegmentum, and olfactory bulb are significantly smaller in size than they normally are in non-crested duck breeds. These defects often include intracranial masses of fatty tissue (lipomas) and peripheral cerebral cysts. Depending on the size and location of these lipomas, affected ducks may develop neurologic signs. Clinical signs most often observed include ataxia, erratic head movements, abnormally small eyes, opisthotonus, abnormal behavior, and in some cases are unable stand up if they asked to lay down. The length of time before neurological signs start to develop can vary and can be present upon hatch or may not start to show until several weeks to months later.

A fairly simple test is commonly performed to help identify whether crested ducks are affected by intracranial lipomas. The ducks are simply put on their backs, and the length of time it takes the ducks to stand up is recorded.


Abnormal behavior
Head tilt
Erratic head movements
Tottering walk
Inability to stand upright
One or both eyes are abnormally small


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiographs - Perforations of various sizes in the parietooccipital calvaria.
  • Computed tomography scan
  • Necropsy - Yellow intracranial masses in the brain.
  • Histologically - Fatty tissue separated into lobules by strands of connective t


MethodMethod Summary
Supportive care
SurgeryA craniectomy was performed successfully on a duck by Yaw TJ without any postoperative complications. However, the duck's owners asked for the veterinarian to perform euthanasia on the duck 5 months later because the duck was not interested in swimming in a water enclosure.



Risk Factors

  • Crested head ducks