Correcting Uterine Torsion: Low-Tech Option Can Be Used to

Uterine torsion can be corrected using ropes, a plank of wood, and a burly volunteer, according to Laura M. Riggs, DVM, a clinical instructor of large animal surgery at the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Click here see this technique.

Riggs uses these tools to help roll around a mare's twisted uterus while the organ is held steady from the outside. Riggs says she tries this option before attempting surgery to correct the twist. The causes of uterine torsion are largely unknown, although vigorous rolling and trauma are suspected to cause a portion of cases.

"We use this unless we have a reason not to, and proceed with surgery," she said. Riggs described the technique at the 52nd annual American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 2-6, 2006, in San Antonio, Texas.

The veterinarian using this method first determines the direction of the twist--whether counterclockwise or clockwise. The mare is then anesthetized and placed on her side (in recumbency). The veterinarian places a plank of wood--a 4-by-6 that's at least eight feet long--on her belly at the flank (vertically between the tuber coxae and 18th rib). The largest person available stands or sits on the center of the plank on the mare's belly while other people roll the mare in the direction of the torsion using rope leg hobbles. The volunteer's weight holds the uterus still while the mare is rolled to correct the torsion. Riggs says she then re-examines the recumbent mare manually to ensure the twist was corrected, and if not, she repeats the procedure.

Riggs estimates that the average case can be resolved in 10 to 45 minutes using the roll method. She knows of one case that required five rolls to correct, but she suggests that if the uterus hasn't returned to its normal position after two or three rolls, surgery should be considered.

Riggs said that 60-70% of mares survive uterine torsion, along with 30-70% of their foals, but that the type and duration of the torsion seems more clearly correlated with survival than the method used to correct it.




Get research and health news from the American Association of Equine Practitioners 2006 Convention in The Horse's AAEP 2006 Wrap-Up sponsored by OCD Equine. Files are available as free PDF downloads.

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care.

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