Veterinarians have a variety of tools at their disposal when it comes to diagnosing fertility issues in mares, including transrectal palpation, ultrasound, endometrial culture, cytology, and biopsy. One that might not be a part of every reproduction practitioner’s arsenal, however, is hysteroscopy, in which the veterinarian runs a flexible endoscope through the uterus to check for abnormalities.

Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital reproductive specialties team member Etta Bradecamp, DVM, Dipl. ACT, ABVP, described this procedure and its common findings at the 2016 Theriogenology Conference, held July 27-30 in Asheville, North Carolina.

“Hysteroscopy is included as part of a breeding soundness exam for most mares presented for infertility at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital,” she said. “I often get asked what percentage of the findings are abnormal, and I just have to guess.”

So she performed a retrospective study of 108 hysteroscopic evaluations performed as part of breeding exams at the hospital between 2008 and 2015 and identified pathology (damage or disease) in 41.6% (45/108) of the cases. Specifically, she found:

  • Discolored endometrial plaques, indicating fungal or bacterial growth, in 14.8% (16/108);
  • Excessive and overly viscous (thick, sticky) mucus in 6.5% (7/108);
  • Retained endometrial cups, which form in mares’ uteri during early pregnancy and typically disappear about halfway through term, in 5.5% (6/108);
  • Adhesions/scarring in 3.7% (4/108);
  • Excessive cesarean section scarring in 2.7% (3/108);
  • Foreign debris within the uterine l