What is Uterine Inflammation?
If your mare is showing symptoms of uterine inflammation she should be seen by a veterinarian. Uterine inflammation is typically a secondary condition. It is important that a veterinarian diagnose the cause of the inflammation of the mare’s uterus. Uterine infections that are left untreated may cause the mare to be permanently barren. The early treatment of secondary health conditions usually have a much better prognosis.
Uterine inflammation in horses is the irritation and swelling of the mare’s uterus. Uterine inflammation is usually triggered by bacteria or fungi entering the uterus.
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Symptoms of Uterine Inflammation in Horses
Symptoms may include:
- Vaginal or cervical discharge
- Short estrus cycle
- Failure to become pregnant
Causes of Uterine Inflammation in Horses
Uterine inflammation is usually caused by an infection. The bacteria or fungi enters the uterus by:
- Urine pooling (urine is able to get inside the uterus)
- Bacteria enters the uterus when the mare is undergoing a surgical procedure such as artificial insemination or uterine biopsy
- The stallion has pathogenic organisms on his penis when mating with the mare
- Perineal conformation (feces enter the uterus)
Diagnosis of Uterine Inflammation in Horses
The veterinarian will want to go over your horse’s medical history. Let your veterinarian know what symptoms you have observed in your horse and when they first became noticeable. Discuss with him any concerns you may have such as the mare’s inability to get pregnant. The veterinarian may want to review the horse’s vaccination, dental and deworming records.
The patient will then have a physical exam. The physical exam may include listening to the mare’s heart, lungs and GI tract with a stethoscope, taking her temperature, blood pressure, pulse, checking lymph nodes, and palpations of the muscles and limbs. If the veterinarian suspects an infection in the uterus he will perform a vaginal exam. The mare’s perineal area will be washed and disinfected before the veterinarian inserts a speculum into the patient’s vagina. Using a light the veterinarian will be able to observe if there are any lacerations, scars and inflammation. The veterinarian may want to take a culture and a biopsy of endometrial tissue. He may also perform a rectal exam of the mare. Blood may be drawn from the side of the mare’s neck to run a complete blood count. A complete blood count can help determine the overall health of the mare and determine if there is a bacterial infection.
The veterinarian may also suggest an ultrasound of the mare’s uterus. Your horse may be sedated for this procedure. The mare’s tail will be secured to the side. An ultrasound transducer will be inserted into the rectum; the transducer is then able to produce sound waves that are transmitted from the rectum walls to the reproductive system. The ultrasound will be able to take images that can help determine if the mare has uterine inflammation.
Treatment of Uterine Inflammation in Horses
If the veterinarian diagnoses uterine inflammation due to an infection he will recommend a uterine lavage. The mare will be sedated for this procedure. Uterine lavage usually uses 2 to 3 liters of warm saline water to flush out the uterus of any debris. The procedure is performed using a balloon-tipped catheter. The uterine lavage can also have povidone-iodine added to the saline solution. The uterine lavage may need to be performed daily for a few days. The mare will also be prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.
Recovery of Uterine Inflammation in Horses
Once the infection is treated the inflammation of the uterus will subside. Follow-up visits will be required to monitor your mare’s progress. It is important to follow the veterinarian’s treatment plan. The veterinarian may want the mare to have another ultrasound and a repeat complete blood count. These diagnostic tests can help evaluate if the infection is gone and that there is no longer inflammation in the uterus. The veterinarian may recommend vitamins to help build up the mare’s immune system such as vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A. There are also immune system supplements that may be added to the patient’s feed. Most mares treated for uterine inflammation have a very good recovery prognosis. It is crucial that she has fully recovered from uterine inflammation before attempting to breed her.
It is recommended, that a horse should be seen by a veterinarian once a year, for a wellness check. The veterinarian performs a thorough physical exam of the equine. This will ensure that your horse is in good health.