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Cesarean section in alpacas and llamas: 34 cases (1997–2010)

Bret A. Miller BS1, Sabrina H. Brounts DVM, MS, DACVS2, David E. Anderson DVM, MS, DACVS3, and Elizabeth Devine DVM4
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  • 1 Department of Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706.
  • | 2 Department of Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.
  • | 4 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.

Abstract

Objective—To determine indications for cesarean section in alpacas and llamas, and clinical management and outcome of alpacas and llamas undergoing cesarean section.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—27 alpacas and 7 llamas.

Procedures—Medical records were reviewed and information gathered on signalment, anamnesis including reproductive history, physical examination findings, indication for cesarean section, anesthetic protocol, surgical technique, number of crias delivered (alive or dead), additional treatment, duration of hospitalization, and postoperative complications. Follow-up information was gathered via email or telephone interview with owners.

Results—Uterine torsion (13/34 [38%]) was the most common reason for cesarean section. The most common surgical approach was the left proximal lateral abdominal approach (21/34 [62%]). Thirty-four crias were delivered via cesarean section. Twenty (59%) were born alive and discharged from the hospital. Retained placenta was the most common complication observed after surgery. A significant association was found between prolonged dystocia and fetal death. Of the 34 dams that underwent cesarean section, 21 were rebred, and 19 of the 21 (90.5%) dams that were rebred became pregnant. Fifteen of 19 dams were confirmed to have ≥ 1 normal vaginal delivery with a live cria following cesarean section.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The results of the present study indicated that cesarean section was an effective method of resolving dystocia in camelids without negatively affecting future fertility or parturition by the dam. Prompt referral of patients with dystocia is advised to improve fetal viability. Retained fetal membranes seemed to be a common complication of cesarean section in camelids but was not associated with negative outcomes.

Abstract

Objective—To determine indications for cesarean section in alpacas and llamas, and clinical management and outcome of alpacas and llamas undergoing cesarean section.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—27 alpacas and 7 llamas.

Procedures—Medical records were reviewed and information gathered on signalment, anamnesis including reproductive history, physical examination findings, indication for cesarean section, anesthetic protocol, surgical technique, number of crias delivered (alive or dead), additional treatment, duration of hospitalization, and postoperative complications. Follow-up information was gathered via email or telephone interview with owners.

Results—Uterine torsion (13/34 [38%]) was the most common reason for cesarean section. The most common surgical approach was the left proximal lateral abdominal approach (21/34 [62%]). Thirty-four crias were delivered via cesarean section. Twenty (59%) were born alive and discharged from the hospital. Retained placenta was the most common complication observed after surgery. A significant association was found between prolonged dystocia and fetal death. Of the 34 dams that underwent cesarean section, 21 were rebred, and 19 of the 21 (90.5%) dams that were rebred became pregnant. Fifteen of 19 dams were confirmed to have ≥ 1 normal vaginal delivery with a live cria following cesarean section.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The results of the present study indicated that cesarean section was an effective method of resolving dystocia in camelids without negatively affecting future fertility or parturition by the dam. Prompt referral of patients with dystocia is advised to improve fetal viability. Retained fetal membranes seemed to be a common complication of cesarean section in camelids but was not associated with negative outcomes.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Anderson's present address is Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.

Supported by a grant from the Merck-Merial Summer Scholars Program.

The authors thank Dr. Peter Muir for assistance with statistical analysis.

Address correspondence to Dr. Brounts (brounts@svm.vetmed.wisc.edu).