The equine uterus, in a manner of speaking, could be compared to a house. When a house is snug and solid with no broken windows, holes in the roof, drafts, or plugged drains, it is a comfortable place in which to live. If, however, there are defects that compromise the structure, we lose the comfort factor and must repair it if we are to once again have an abode that will properly shelter us.
So it is with the equine uterus. When all aspects are healthy and unimpaired, the uterus serves as a safe, comfortable “house” for the fetus. When it is compromised as the result of infection, cysts, scar tissue, and/or adhesions, however, the uterus can lose its capability to safely house the growing fetus. In fact, the uterine environment might even deteriorate to the point where the mare is unable to get pregnant.
When defects show up in a house, we use whatever means necessary to remedy the problem. The same is true of an equine uterus that has defects, only the tools used often are more state-of-the-art than the hammer or saw that might be used to repair a problem roof.
To diagnose the uterine problem, practitioners have at their disposal such sophisticated tools as the flexible fiberoptic endoscope with which to perform a hysteroscopy (a visualization of the structures within the uterus). And, when the problem is diagnosed, they can call into action a “Star Wars” type of weapon involving the laser beam (see laser article on page 28).
Before we get into diagnosis and treatment, though, it would be good to understand the uterine cyst, an affliction that can attack the “safe house” environment of the uterus. The uterine cys