Uterine Torsion – what it is, what to do
There has been some concern recently in the canine world regarding the potential link between scanning and uterine torsion. Whether you are a diligent breeder, scanner or pet owner, it’s important to feel that the animals in your care are safe and attended to at such a delicate time. As you will see, it is highly unlikely that uterine torsion will affect your animal, especially in the cases of bitches, and even less likely that it could happen as a result of a pregnancy scan.
What is uterine torsion?
▪ Firstly, it must be noted only a few cases have been reported and studied. At the time of writing I was unable to find any studies that noted uterine torsion in un-neutered bitches following any trauma, suggesting that it’s a rare condition.
▪ Uterine torsion occurs when the uterus twists on its own along the long axis, often resulting in miscarriage in pregnant females of a number of different species.
▪ Extremely uncommon with bitches, cases are more reported in a pregnant bitch during the latter stages of gestation.
▪ Uterine torsion within bovine breeds is much more recorded with higher caseloads, and occasionally in the ovine and porcine world.
▪ In non-pregnant bitches, reported cases have suggested torsion has occurred due to other pathology within the uterus. In pregnant females it can be caused by low levels of foetal fluid, and in both pregnant and non pregnant animals if they’ve had a bad fall or rolled awkwardly.
▪ Management of the condition has both surgical and medical options, within the cow and doe community medical management can present its own problems.
▪ Some possible signs of uterine torsion are general displays of discomfort, restlessness, vomiting, heightened temperature, pulse and respiratory rate and irregular or no feeding for several days.
What to do if you suspect uterine torsion
▪ If there is any suspicion of uterine torsion, it is classed as a veterinary emergency, and treatment should be sought immediately.
▪ Diagnosis and treatment can only be undertaken by a veterinary surgeon.
▪ As written in the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, within the farming community an animal owner or person engaged in caring for animals used in agriculture may carry out medical treatments or minor surgery if not entering a body cavity.
▪ If surgery involving entry into a body cavity is necessary, they must seek treatment from an agricultural veterinary surgeon.
▪ Typically, an emergency caesarian section is required for pregnant animals and/or an ovario-hysterectomy.
While uterine torsion is an alarming condition that we should all be aware of, it is reassuring to know that it is such a rare occurrence. I hope after reading this that you will feel somewhat reassured and confident that ultrasound scanning is a safe practice which is essential to ensure the good health of your pregnant animal and its offspring.