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Oviduct Impaction

Other Names: Obstructed Oviduct

Oviduct impaction is a serious, life-threatening condition that affects hens actively laying eggs. Modern laying breeds are highly susceptible due to excessive egg laying. It occurs from the accumulation of eggs or egg material in the oviduct and is often a consequence of chronic salpingitis. E. coli is commonly associated with reproductive infections that lead to oviduct impaction in laying hens. Other bacteria found in conjunction include Proteous spp, Klebsiella spp and Streptococcus spp. Oviduct impactions can less frequently be caused by excessive production of albumin or mucin or hens with cystic hyperplasia.

As the impacted mass grows in size it can fill up most of the chicken's body cavity, causing marked distension of the abdomen. The contains of the impaction may include inspissated albumin and yolk materials adhered to the mucosal surface, partially formed eggs and thin shelled eggs in the abdominal cavity. Oviduct prolapse or torsion of the oviduct may occur secondary due to the buildup of egg material and prolonged contractions.

Clinical signs that a hen may have an oviduct impaction include:
  • Sudden cessation of egg laying for weeks to months
  • Enlarged abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Depression, change in behavior
  • Reduced appetite
  • Excessive nestbox sitting, often confused with acting 'broody'
Hens with oviduct impactions require surgery to remove the contents causing the obstruction (salpingotomy). Severe or chronic cases may require the complete removal of the oviduct (salpingohysterectomy). Hormone implants are a less risky alternative to stop hens from continuing to lay eggs.

Clinical Signs

History of cessation of egg laying
Abdominal distension and ascites
Loss of appetite
Persistent 'broodiness'


  • History - Cessation of egg laying.
  • Physical exam
  • Exploratory coeliotomy
  • Endoscopy with aspiration of the oviduct contents
  • Ultrasound

Reported Cases

  • Case 1: Impacted oviduct, colibacillosis and egg yolk peritonitis in a Chicken A 1-year-old golden comet hen was presented because of an enlarged abdomen, cessation in egg production, difficulty in ambulating, and difficulty roosting. Results of radiographs and ultrasound examination revealed a radiolucent oval area in the right coelom and fluid with flocculent debris throughout the coelomic cavity. Escherichia coli and Proteus species were cultured from a sample of the fluid. Antibiotic therapy was temporarily beneficial, but the problem persisted and the hen was euthanatized. At necropsy, the oviduct was impacted with yellow caseous material. The diagnosis was colibacillosis and egg yolk peritonitis, which may have originated from an impacted oviduct. Ref

  • Case 2: Oviduct Impaction in a Chicken A large oval mass was found in the abdominal cavity of two different hens. The mass was firm and adhered to peritoneum and visceral organs. The abdominal mass in one bird contained several masses of yolk, each surrounded with concentric rings. Cut surfaces of the mass were laminated, and loosely attached to one another. Each layer was composed of fibrous connective tissue, heterophils, macrophages, cellular debris, and fibrin clots. Ref


Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
SurgerySalpingotomy in acute cases and salpingohysterectomy in severe or chronic cases. These are high risk procedures.
Hormone implantsSuprelorin® (deslorelin implants) to stop further ovulation and reduce the risk of the impaction reoccurring.



  • Hormone implants: Suprelorin® (deslorelin implants) to stop hens from laying eggs.
  • Give your birds regular health exams so you can catch the underlying issue, and bring the bird to see a veterinarian for treatment before it advances to the point of an impaction.

Scientific References

Age Range

Occurs more frequently in adult hens.

Risk Factors

  • Breeds with high egg production rates.
  • Increasing age
  • Obesity
  • History of reproductive disease
  • Suspected mycoplasma carrier
  • History of a respiratory infection

Case Stories