Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Uterine Torsion

Since I mentioned uterine torsion in the big post about Victoria's cria's birth, I thought I should explain what it is. It sounds awful, doesn't it!? It can be deadly to the cria, and the dam, depending on the situation. This is where the uterus actually turns, twists, late in the pregnancy, making it so that the cria cannot make it out the birth canal. Sometimes it will correct itself by twisting back (the female may roll on the ground trying to get it to twist back). But, other times it requires vet intervention. Sometimes the vet can turn it back manually, other times it requires a c-section.

This is what Ohio State University says about Uterine Torsion:
Uterine Torsion - Uterine torsion in llamas and alpacas usually occurs near term gestation. Camelids may show signs of abdominal pain or may simply lay down and appear to be depressed. Cebra et al (1997) reported 20 cases of uterine torsion occurring in 11 llamas and three alpacas, 19 were clockwise in direction (left uterine horn rolling dorsal to the right uterine horn). Uterine torsion was corrected by rolling in eight dams, by celiotomy in seven dams, and by transvaginal manipulation in five dams. Surgery is indicated if correction is not achieved within two rolling attempts. Uterine torsion usually occurs at the termination of gestation, does not have a clear age or season predisposition, and can often be corrected without surgery. Clinical signs may included fever, tachycardia, tachypnea, anorexia, straining, and vaginal discharge. When the uterus can not be corrected by rolling, when the cervix does not dilate sufficiently to deliver the fetus, or when fetal proportion or anomalies prevent delivery of the fetus, C-section is indicated. I prefer to perform left paralumbar fossa laparotomy regardless of the direction of the torsion.

We read in our book the Alpaca Field Manual by Norm Evans, DVM:
... uterine torsion, often 3 to 6 weeks prepartum. This female is up and down, strains, rolls and is constantly uncomfortable.

Of note, the book did mention other reasons for a pre-partum female to be straining and uncomfortable, the other two reasons being: cystitis or a cria in the birth canal near the obturator nerve. In retrospect, it likely was the obturator nerve in Victoria's situation. But, we couldn't know for sure. And we still don't. It may have been uterine torsion that did correct itself. I would have much rather had the vet say "no torsion" than to not go to the vet and have it be a uterine torsion that needed veterinary assistance. In the end, we lucked out and everything worked out *phew* I do think J walking her helped, so I would definitely do that if we run into something similar in the future.

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