Sheep scanning, and a lump…

Sheep pregnancy ultrasound scan of fetus

One of the reasons I love this university is how practical it is, and how you are pushed to think for yourself. We were left with a bull calf with a large lump on its neck and told to come up with a diagnosis in diseases of ruminants this morning.

This was a very large lump almost the size of a basketball hanging below the jaw on the right side. Now when dealing with lumps it is important to consider the location in relation to the structures that anatomically occur in that area. Then it is how the lump feels, and what it is attached to. Considering what diseases can affect that area of the body. Sometimes it is worth looking at a ultrasound scan of the lump, or taking a biopsy from it to examine in pathology.

The lump on this bull however is most likely from trauma and a massive haematoma which is like a bruise. All this blood had collected inside a capsule under the skin.

The afternoon we headed out to the farm for a reproduction practical – it is always interesting on these trips as we rarely know where we are going or what we are going to be doing. When we got there we found that we were ultrasounding sheep and goats for the diagnosis of pregnancy.

We ended up on a farm with a large number of sheep and goats, we set up the ultrasound machine and got started. Apparently once we are qualified we don’t get the time to play with ultrasounding fetuses and have to decide within seconds whether the animal is pregnant or not. Today however we had the time to look properly, and attempt to find the different parts of the fetus. It was actually even possible to find the heartbeat of the fetus on the ultrasound along with the different organs.

Normally though when ultrasounding for pregnancy we take any sign of pregnancy as a positive pregnancy – this can be the cotyledons (attachment of placenta to uterus), the amniotic sac, or part of the fetus. Once we see this we mark the animal as pregnant and move onto the next, usually this occurs at the same time as milking to reduce any stress to the animal.

Sheep pregnancy ultrasound scan of fetus

The image above is of the fetus of a goat inside its mother who is very pregnant.

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