Uterine torsion and ultrasound imaging in the buffalo

Pregnancy complications can occur at any stage of gestation, and it is important that they are identified and dealt with wherever possible to ensure the increased chance of foetal viability and pregnancy success. One such complication, albeit rare, is that of uterine torsion whereby the uterus rotates and which can be fatal.

In order to assess whether ultrasound imaging would be a suitable method for practitioners to determine whether uterine torsion had occurred and what resultant impact this could have on pregnancy, a research study published by Devender et al., in Veterinary World sought to assess this condition further. The information contained in the abstract is focused on here, but those wishing to read further can do so by searching for ‘Transabdominal color doppler ultrasonography: A relevant approach for assessment of effects of uterine torsion in buffaloes’, 2016 Aug;9(8):842-9.

A total of twenty pregnant buffaloes were used as research models, each presenting with uterine torsion. Utilising ultrasound imaging transabdominally, both the foetus and uterus were examined and all findings were looked at relative to twenty buffaloes that were considered to be progressing normally in their pregnancies. The ultrasound practitioner used a 2D convex transducer, and results were subjected to statistical analysis following examination.

The findings unfortunately revealed that in instances where uterine torsion was present, the foetus was not viable in the majority of cases (95%), although the foetus could still be examined internally using this technique. Furthermore in cases where the buffalo was suffering from uterine torsion, the size of the umbilicus and the uterine wall thickness/echogenicity of the foetal fluids were all found to be significantly different relative to buffaloes undergoing a normal pregnancy (smaller and greater respectively). In contrast there was found to be no statistical difference between both groups with reference to the placentomal area.

The results retrieved following ultrasound imaging reveal that practitioners can use ultrasonography to examine the effects of uterine torsion in buffaloes prior to any further tests being carried out, hopefully aiding in increased foetal viability and pregnancy success, and at the very least, the health of the mother. Presumably, these findings apply also to dairy cattle.

As ultrasound imaging is a non-invasive technique it is likely that further analysis may require more invasive and potentially traumatic examinations. Consequently, any method that allows the bypassing of such techniques is surely to be greatly welcomed by scientists, veterinarians and breeders alike.

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