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Management of hydrops amnion in a mare resulting in birth of a live foal

Bruce W. Christensen DVM1, Mats H. T. Troedsson DVM, PhD, DACT2, Tracy A. Murchie BVSc, DACT3, Margorzata A. Pozor Med Vet, PhD, DACT4, Margo L. Macpherson DVM, MS, DACT5, Amara H. Estrada DVM, DACVIM6, Natalie A. Carrillo MV, DACVIM7, Robert J. Mackay BVSc, PhD, DACVIM8, Gregory D. Roberts DVM, MS, DACVR9, and John Langlois DVM10
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  • 1 Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.
  • | 2 Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.
  • | 3 Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA 91766.
  • | 4 Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.
  • | 5 Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.
  • | 6 Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.
  • | 7 Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.
  • | 8 Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.
  • | 9 Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610.
  • | 10 McIntosh Equine Practice PA, PO Box 238, McIntosh, FL 32664.

Abstract

Case Description—A 19-year-old Thoroughbred mare was evaluated at 265 days of gestation with a markedly distended abdomen and edema of the ventral portion of the abdomen.

Clinical Findings—The uterus was distended over the pelvic rim, making transrectal palpation of the fetus impossible. Transabdominal ultrasonography revealed excessive amounts of fetal fluid. Results of analysis of fluid obtained via amnio- and allantocentesis confirmed that the amniotic cavity was large.

Treatment and Outcome—The mare was monitored for signs of weakness of the prepubic tendon and abdominal wall. The fetus and placenta were monitored for signs of stress and pending abortion. Flunixin meglumine and altrenogest were administered to the mare. Parturition was attended and occurred at 321 days' gestation. Postpartum complications in the mare included hypovolemic shock and cardiac arrhythmias. Both conditions were treated, and the mare recovered. The foal was considered small, had bilateral angular limb deformities, and was unable to nurse. The foal was given plasma for failure of passive transfer of immunity. Ten months later, the foal underwent procedures to correct limb deformities.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Hydrops conditions are rare in horses, with hydrops allantois occurring more frequently than hydrops amnion; reportedly result in fetal or neonatal death; and may result in death of or injury to the mare. Close monitoring of maternal and fetal health in combination with supportive treatment of the mare can result in the safe progression of a hydrops pregnancy and the birth of a live foal.

Abstract

Case Description—A 19-year-old Thoroughbred mare was evaluated at 265 days of gestation with a markedly distended abdomen and edema of the ventral portion of the abdomen.

Clinical Findings—The uterus was distended over the pelvic rim, making transrectal palpation of the fetus impossible. Transabdominal ultrasonography revealed excessive amounts of fetal fluid. Results of analysis of fluid obtained via amnio- and allantocentesis confirmed that the amniotic cavity was large.

Treatment and Outcome—The mare was monitored for signs of weakness of the prepubic tendon and abdominal wall. The fetus and placenta were monitored for signs of stress and pending abortion. Flunixin meglumine and altrenogest were administered to the mare. Parturition was attended and occurred at 321 days' gestation. Postpartum complications in the mare included hypovolemic shock and cardiac arrhythmias. Both conditions were treated, and the mare recovered. The foal was considered small, had bilateral angular limb deformities, and was unable to nurse. The foal was given plasma for failure of passive transfer of immunity. Ten months later, the foal underwent procedures to correct limb deformities.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Hydrops conditions are rare in horses, with hydrops allantois occurring more frequently than hydrops amnion; reportedly result in fetal or neonatal death; and may result in death of or injury to the mare. Close monitoring of maternal and fetal health in combination with supportive treatment of the mare can result in the safe progression of a hydrops pregnancy and the birth of a live foal.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Christensen.