Noninvasive color Doppler sonography of uterine blood flow throughout pregnancy in sheep and goats.

Research paper by M M Elmetwally, K K Rohn, S S Meinecke-Tillmann

Indexed on: 16 Jan '16Published on: 16 Jan '16Published in: Theriogenology


In contrast to cattle or horses, uterine blood flow in small ruminants has been investigated predominantly after surgical intervention and chronic instrumentation. The objective of the present study was to investigate the clinical applicability of noninvasive color Doppler sonography to characterize blood flow in the maternal uterine artery of sheep, n = 11 (18 pregnancies) and goats, n = 11 (20 pregnancies). The following parameters were measured transrectally or transabdominally: blood flow volume, time-averaged maximum velocity (TAMV), resistance index (RI), pulsatility index (PI), Time-averaged mean velocity, impedance of blood flow (AB or systolic/diastolic [S/D] velocity ratio), peak velocity of blood flow and blood flow acceleration. Examinations started 2 weeks after breeding and continued at 2-week intervals until parturition. Outcomes for sheep and goats were similar and will be discussed together. Based on noninvasive color Doppler sonography, blood flow volume increased (approximately 60-fold, P < 0.0001) until the end of pregnancy, with a rapid increase early in gestation, and a slow increase after week 18. Time-averaged maximum velocity in the uterine artery increased (approximately 4-fold; P < 0.0001) throughout pregnancy in sheep and goats. Furthermore, for uterine artery blood flow, there was an effect of stage of pregnancy on PI and RI (P < 0.001 and P < 0.0001, respectively), both indices decreased until the end of gestation. Time-averaged mean velocity decreased from week 18 to 20 in both species. The blood flow acceleration increased (P < 0.0001) until week 16 and week 14 in sheep and goats, respectively, and then decreased until parturition. Similar to PI and RI, vascular impedance of the uterine decreased (P < 0.0001) throughout pregnancy. This is apparently the first study using noninvasive color Doppler sonography of uterine blood flow throughout physiological pregnancy in small ruminants. Clearly, this technology facilitates repeated, noninvasive assessments, with great potential for future studies.