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Open Access Review

Ascending placentitis in the mare: A review

C Cummins*, S Carrington, E Fitzpatrick and V Duggan

Author Affiliations

School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4

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Irish Veterinary Journal 2008, 61:307-313  doi:10.1186/2046-0481-61-5-307

Published: 1 May 2008

Abstract

Ascending placentitis is a condition that occurs late in pregnancy when bacteria enter the sterile uterus from the lower reproductive tract. It leads to abortion or the birth of premature and weakened foals. Early detection and treatment of this condition is vital for ensuring the production of a viable foal.

Mares with ascending placentitis often present in late term pregnancy with signs of premature udder development and premature lactation. There may be a vulvar discharge. Early detection of placental problems is possible using trans-abdominal or trans-rectal ultrasonography. Hormones such as progesterone and relaxin may be measured as indicators of foetal stress and placental failure. Postpartum foetal membranes may be thickened and contain a fibronecrotic exudate. The region most affected is the cervical star. Definitive diagnosis of ascending placentitis is by histopathological examination of the chorioallantoic membrane.

Ideal treatment strategies are aimed at curing the infection and prolonging the pregnancy to as close to term as possible and consist of anti-microbials, anti-inflammatories and hormonal support.

Swabs are taken from affected mares to determine antibiotic sensitivity and to aid in treatment of foals born from these mares which are at risk of becoming septic. If detected early enough, the chances of producing a viable foal are greatly increased.

Keywords:
ascending; placentitis; pregnancy loss; mare