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Equine Health Resource

Uterine Culture & Sensitivity

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Uterine culture is a common diagnostic test performed on mares to assess uterine health.

This diagnostic is often recommended or required before breeding to identify infections that might reduce fertility or, in cases of natural service, infect a stallion. It is regularly used in conjunction with a uterine cytology, which helps to define the significance of a culture result.

This procedure involves sterile technique, wherein a cotton swab is passed through the cervix and into the uterus. It is rolled around to collect cells and removed. The swab is then laid out on specific bacterial growth plates in a microbiologic lab and cultured for bacterial growth. The organism(s) on the swab is grown and identified.

Sensitivity: These bacterial growths are then exposed to the common antibiotics to determine their susceptibility to those antibiotics.

Benefits

The results of a uterine culture may help diagnose a specific bacterial organism in a uterine infection. It may define sensitivity of bacteria to antibiotics, and thus help to create a more effective treatment plan.

Limitations

Time delay due to offsite evaluation.

False positives come from contaminants that grow in the laboratory, confusing the picture.

False negatives comes from bacteria that are a problem but do not grow. Your vet must decide what they think is significant and requires treatment.

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QUESTIONS TO ASK MY VET

  • Is this diagnostic required by the breeding farm?
  • Does this diagnostic add information that may change our approach to treatment or management?
  • Is this diagnostic being utilized along with uterine cytology?
  • How should we interpret the result of this diagnostic?
  • Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

    RELATED REFERENCES

    Lavoie JP, Hinchcliff KW eds. Blackwell's 5 Minute Vet Consult: Equine. 2nd Ed. Ames: Wiley Blackwell 2008.

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