Prolapse of Vagina, Rectum or Uterus

Tuesday, 13th February 2018

Mohair producers will from time to time see an Angora ewe with a prolapse of the Vagina, rectum or uterus. Vaginal and mild uterine prolapses can occur just prior to kidding season in some ewes. Complete uterine prolapses occurs after kidding.

Vaginal prolapses appear as a pink to red mass protruding from the vagina.

See https://www.angoras.co.za/article/vaginal-prolapse

Uterine prolapses are larger in size, but often have a more bright red appearance.

Prolapsed Uterus (photo Danke Club Lambs)

Rectal prolapses (rare in Angora goats and more common in sheep) appear as a bright red, sausage-shaped mass protruding from the rectum.

Sheep with rectal prolapse (photo infovets)

What is the cause of the prolapse?

An increase in pressure inside the abdomen occurs through an enlarged uterus, distended rumen and a full bladder. This pressure may cause the ewe to strain when she does urinate. This straining superimposed upon relaxation and softening of the pelvic girdle and associated soft-tissue structures in the pelvic canal and perineum caused by increased circulating concentrations of estrogens and relaxin during late pregnancy. This can also occur in goats grazing oetrogenic rich Lucerne.

Angora ewes with a prolapsed uterus after giving birth is usually associated with low calcium levels (hypocalcemia), difficult births (dystocia), or lack of exercise.

Rectal prolapse is a serious defect in the anal muscle tone that is believed that may be due to an inherited defect and as a result of staining as discussed above.

What to do when you find a ewe with a prolapse?

  1. Clean off the projecting structure with clean water and a very mild antiseptic solution
  2. With gloved hands and arms, along with plenty of lubricant gently force the prolapse back into the ewe. If possible lift the hindquarters so that gravity helps.
  3. For large uterine prolapses after the mother has given birth, 1-2 mls of oxytocin can be given to help shrink the uterus. Cold water (even with ice) can also be used to help shrink the prolapse.

After the prolapse is put back in the animal, some type of device or surgical approach should be used to keep it in place.

Minor rectal prolapses can occasionally be treated by placement of the prolapse back into the anus. If this does not seem to work, more aggressive treatments such as purse-string stitches are needed and the goat should be taken to your vet.

All of these are more complicated procedures that require an epidural to stop the straining and pain relief while the vet puts in the Buhner suture) suture.

Uterine prolapses are kept in place by placing a purse-string or mattress-type suture around the opening of the vulva. If a uterine prolapsed tissue is extremely damaged, the uterus may need to be amputated as a salvage procedure.

Many animals should be treated with antibiotics for several days to prevent or treat bacterial infections.

Rectal prolapse may require surgery involving the removal of the protruding section of intestine and use of purse-string (Buhmer) sutures in the anus.

Ewes that have a prolapse should be culled.

References:

Infovets.com

Overview of Vaginal and Cervical Prolapse.By Robert O. Gilbert, BVSc, MMedVet, DACT, MRCVS, Professor, Reproductive Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University

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