The Veterinary clinics of North America. Equine practice2021; 37(2); 367-405; doi: 10.1016/j.cveq.2021.04.008

Managing Reproduction Emergencies in the Field: Part 2: Parturient and Periparturient Conditions.

Abstract: Selected conditions affecting broodmares are discussed, including arterial rupture, dystocia, foal support with ex utero intrapartum treatment, uterine prolapse, postpartum colic, the metritis/sepsis/systemic inflammatory response syndrome complex, and retained fetal membranes. Postpartum colic beyond third-stage labor contractions should prompt comprehensive evaluation for direct injuries to the reproductive tract or indirect injury of the intestinal tract. Mares with perforation or rupture of the uterus are typically recognized 1 to 3 days after foaling, with depression, fever, and leukopenia; laminitis and progression to founder can be fulminant. The same concerns are relevant in mares with retention of fetal membranes.
Publication Date: 2021-07-11 PubMed ID: 34243878DOI: 10.1016/j.cveq.2021.04.008Google Scholar: Lookup
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The research outlines different conditions that could affect broodmares during and after giving birth, including issues like arterial rupture, dystocia, and uterine prolapse. The study emphasizes the need for comprehensive evaluations after signs of colic post-labor and reveals that injury or rupture of the uterus is often identified within 1-3 days after birthing.

Description of Conditions

  • Arterial rupture and dystocia are problems that can occur in the mare’s reproductive system during labor. In both cases, it can lead to serious complications such as hemorrhage or even death if not addressed promptly.
  • Ex utero intrapartum treatment refers to the extra support that a foal might need during and after birth. This could include anything from common interventions like oxygen supplementation to more severe measures like surgical interventions.
  • Uterine prolapse, another common condition in broodmares, occurs when the uterus comes out through the mare’s vulva typically observed shortly after the foal’s birth. Immediate veterinary attention is needed to prevent severe damage or infection.

Postpartum Conditions

  • Postpartum colic is an abdominal pain that may continue beyond third-stage labor contractions, sometimes indicating injuries to the reproductive or intestinal tract.
  • Metritis/Sepsis/Systemic inflammatory response syndrome complex is a severe condition involving inflammation of the uterus, serious infection in the bloodstream, and body-wide inflammation. This potentially life-threatening condition requires immediate treatment.
  • Retained fetal membranes refer to cases where pieces of the placenta remain in the uterus after the birth resulting in infection or inflammation.

Identify and Deal with Uterus Ruptures

  • Mares suffering from uterine perforation or rupture are often identified within 1 to 3 days post-foaling, often presenting depression, fever, and leukopenia (reduction in white blood cells).
  • If not treated promptly, the mare may develop laminitis, a painful inflammatory condition affecting the horse’s feet, which can progress to founder, a debilitating and lifelong condition that affects the hooves.
  • Similar concerns are applicable in cases of mares with retained fetal membranes. The quickest possible veterinary intervention is demanded in these scenarios.

Cite This Article

Lu KG, Sprayberry KA. (2021). Managing Reproduction Emergencies in the Field: Part 2: Parturient and Periparturient Conditions. Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract, 37(2), 367-405.


ISSN: 1558-4224
NlmUniqueID: 8511904
Country: United States
Language: English
Volume: 37
Issue: 2
Pages: 367-405
PII: S0749-0739(21)00028-6

Researcher Affiliations

Lu, Kristina G
  • Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, 4250 Iron Works Pike, Lexington, KY 40511, USA.
Sprayberry, Kim A
  • Department of Animal Sciences, Cal Poly University San Luis Obispo, 1 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, USA. Electronic address:

MeSH Terms

  • Animals
  • Dystocia / diagnostic imaging
  • Dystocia / therapy
  • Dystocia / veterinary
  • Elasticity Imaging Techniques / veterinary
  • Emergencies / veterinary
  • Extraembryonic Membranes / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Hemorrhage / veterinary
  • Horse Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Horse Diseases / therapy
  • Horses
  • Parturient Paresis / diagnostic imaging
  • Parturient Paresis / therapy
  • Parturition
  • Placenta, Retained / diagnostic imaging
  • Placenta, Retained / therapy
  • Placenta, Retained / veterinary
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproduction
  • Uterine Prolapse / diagnostic imaging
  • Uterine Prolapse / therapy
  • Uterine Prolapse / veterinary
  • Uterus / diagnostic imaging

Conflict of Interest Statement

Disclosure The authors have nothing to disclose.


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