Feasibility of characterizing reproductive events in large nondomestic species by transrectal ultrasonic imaging

The feasibility of using transrectal ultrasonography for imaging the in situ morphology of the reproductive tract of females of several large nondomestic and endangered species was studied. Two black (Diceros bicornis) and 1 white (Diceros simus) rhinoceros, 2 Asian (Elaphus maximus) and 2 African (Loxodonta africana) elephants, 4 banteng (Bos javanicus), 1 gaur (Bos taurus), 1 giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), and 1 bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) were examined. Real-time ultrasonic images were obtained for the following structures: 1) rhinoceros—corpus luteum, ovarian follicles, uterus, cervix, and early conceptus, 2) elephants—posterior uterus and cervix, 3) banteng and gaur—corpus luteum, ovarian follicles, uterus, cervix, and conceptus, 4) giraffe—posterior uterus, placentomes, and late conceptus, 5) camel—posterior uterus, fetal fluids, and fetal membranes. Individual ovarian follicles were identified and monitored over a 34 day observational period in 1 nontranquilized white rhinoceros. Difficulties and limitations in viewing the ovaries in the elephants were attributed to operator inexperience and to the size, positioning, and demeanor of the animals. Pregnancy was detected in 1 black rhinoceros (27 days), 1 banteng cow (48 days), the giraffe (13 months), and in the bactrian camel (approximately 3½ months). Impending embryonic loss was suspected in the banteng cow because a heartbeat was not detected in the embryo proper; the cow was subsequently diagnosed nonpregnant by transrectal palpation 20 days later. It is concluded that the ability afforded by transrectal ultrasonography to detect and measure ovarian structures and changes in morphology of the tubular genitalia and conceptus provides a research methodology for the elucidation of certain aspects of reproductive biology, and a clinical modality for reproductive management and assisted fertilization programs of large nondomestic species.

Last Updated
January 26, 2021
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