Pyometra

Definition

Pyometra results from the accumulation of purulent exydate in the uterus. This is produced following the prolonged stimulation of the uterus by progesterone and the uterine changes which result favor the development of secondary bacterial infections.

Pyometra can manifest at any age after puberty but is most common in animals aver 9 yearsof age. Dogs are more often affected than cats. Risk factors include age hormonal treatments (estrogen or progesterone), irregular estrus cycles, or ovarian illness. A history of a partial ovariohysterectomy, previous treatment to induce abortion or whelping may also be present.

Symptoms

In general, pyometra is associated with anorexia, vomiting, lethargy and dehydration. Furthermore, with dogs we frequently observe an increase in the consumption of water and urination. Vaginal discharge and fever may also be present. If the pyometra is not treated, it can be accompanied by complications leading to the death of the animal (septicemia, acute renal insufficiency, acute hepatic insufficiency, coagulation disorders etc).

Diagnosis

The physical examination and diagnostic procedures (blood test, urine analysis, x-rays and abdominal ultra-sound) permit us to differentiate pyometra from other conditions such as mucometra, gestation, vaginitis, a tumor of the reproductive system, uterine torsion, post-partum metritis and other systemic illnesses.

Treatment

As for treatment, the animal will be stabilized with the help of intravenous fluid therapy and antibiotics if need be. An anti-pain medication may also be administered depending on the degree of the animal's pain . Next, the recommended procedure is a complete ovariohysterectomy, that is the removal of the ovaries and the entire uterus. This permits the infection to clear up rapidly , and eliminates the risk of recurrence.

In a case where the affected animal is a young reproducer and the pyometra is open( with vaginal discharge), a medical treatment may be attempted (postaglandines). Complications may arise with surgical or medical treatment. This is why the animal should be hospitalized in the ICU for a couple of days, with fluid therapy, antibiotics, pain control medication and blood work to follow up on conditions such as coagulation problems, renal and hepatic failure.

In the case where medical treatment was carried out, an ultra-sound should be done every two days to evaluate the response to treatment.

The best way to prevent pyometra is to perform an ovariohysterectomy on all females that are not destined for reproduction and also those that have been removed from breeding.