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  • Author or Editor: Ottó Szenci x
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In the equine practice, attempts have been made to examine the fetus in the second and third trimester of pregnancy but all of the available methods have limitations. Until now, transabdominal ultrasonography has been regarded as the most informative examination. This method allows us to measure fetal heart rate, fetal activity as well as the quality and quantity of the fetal fluids. A modified biophysical profile for horses was used by several researchers in the USA from the 1990s as a gold standard. However, it is not sensitive enough and, in the authors’ experience, professionals can face difficulties during its application (e.g. for measuring aortic diameter and fetal breathing movements). In cows, this method was first used for this purpose by a Canadian research group in 2007. They reported that transabdominal ultrasound was promising but showed low sensitivity in this species. The present studies show that birth weight cannot be predicted from fetal aortic diameter measurement in cows as suggested by other researchers. Transabdominal ultrasound needs special equipment (2–3.5 MHz convex transducer) and basic ultrasonographic knowledge; however, we suggest that in most cases it can be performed with the dam placed in a stock and without shaving the examination area. The method provides useful information within 30–40 minutes, enabling the examiner to determine whether or not the fetus is alive and to recognise placentitis or twins. This technique also allows measuring the combined thickness of the uteroplacental unit, and the authors’ ongoing study showed higher normal values in Lipizzaner mares compared to values in other breeds. In conclusion, with the help of advanced techniques, simple and low-cost methods should be developed for the evaluation of the pregnant dam and its fetus to assess fetal viability in the veterinary practice.

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Authors: Boglárka Baska-Vincze, Ferenc Baska and Ottó Szenci

Monitoring fetal heart rate (FHR) and fetal heart rate variability (FHRV) helps to understand and evaluate normal and pathological conditions in the foal. The aim of this study was to establish normal heart rate reference values for the ongoing equine pregnancy and to perform a heart rate variability (HRV) time-domain analysis in Lipizzaner mares. Seventeen middle- and late-term (days 121–333) pregnant Lipizzaner mares were examined using fetomaternal electrocardiography (ECG). The mean FHR (P = 0.004) and the standard deviation of FHR (P = 0.012) significantly decreased during the pregnancy. FHR ± SD values decreased from 115 ± 35 to 79 ± 9 bpm between months 5 and 11. Our data showed that HRV in the foal decreased as the pregnancy progressed, which is in contrast with the findings of earlier equine studies. The standard deviation of normal-normal intervals (SDNN) was higher (70 ± 25 to 166 ± 108 msec) than described previously. The root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD) decreased from 105 ± 69 to 77 ± 37 msec between the 5th and 11th month of gestation. Using telemetric ECG equipment, we could detect equine fetal heartbeat on day 121 for the first time. In addition, the large differences observed in the HR values of four mare-fetus pairs in four consecutive months support the assumption that there might be ‘high-HR’ and ‘low-HR’ fetuses in horses. It can be concluded that the analysis of FHR and FHRV is a promising tool for the assessment of fetal well-being but the applicability of these parameters in the clinical setting and in studs requires further investigation.

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Temperament has not been taken into account in previous studies evaluating the stress response to exercise in horses. The aim of the present study was to investigate the cortisol response in Thoroughbred racehorses to a single exercise bout, and to analyse the results based on the basic personality of the horse examined. Twenty healthy Thoroughbred horses were selected for the study based on a 25-item rating questionnaire survey used for characterising equine temperament. Eight temperamental and twelve calm horses took part in the experiment. The horses trotted as a warm-up activity, and then galloped on a rounded sand track. Blood sampling was conducted four times for each horse. Horses with a more excitable temperament showed a higher cortisol response to the test (P = 0.036). In conclusion, cortisol levels in response to a mild intensive exercise can be affected by temperament in horses. Serum cortisol may be a relevant marker to quantify individual temperamental differences in racehorses.

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Authors: Boglárka Vincze, Orsolya Kutasi, Ferenc Baska and Ottó Szenci

The aims of this study were to detect physiological changes in blood biochemical parameters throughout gestation, to compare the findings in nonpregnant and pregnant Lipizzaner mares in early-mid and late pregnancy, and to provide reference values for clinical chemistry parameters in this horse breed. A total of 136 venous blood samples were collected from 20 pregnant and 10 nonpregnant (control) asymptomatic Lipizzaner broodmares for biochemical analyses. Twelve parameters (albumin, total protein, urea, triglycerides, glucose, creatinine, alkaline phosphatase, aspartate transaminase, glutamate dehydrogenase, gammaglutamyltransferase, creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase) were measured. For the statistical analyses, correlation, analysis of variance and Kruskal–Wallis H-test were used to evaluate the possible associations between parameters. Serum triglyceride levels proved to be significantly different in pregnant mares compared to the control group. Total protein and urea levels significantly decreased, while glucose, triglyceride and glutamate dehydrogenase values increased from approx. the fifth month of gestation until parturition. Four biochemical parameters (albumin, aspartate transaminase, total protein and urea) were lower and three other variables (glucose, alkaline phosphatase and creatinine) were significantly higher in late-term pregnant mares than in mares in early or mid-gestation. It is concluded that reference values not only reflect the species, breed and sex but also the reproductive status of animals.

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Authors: Ottó Szenci, Kamal Touati, Noelita Melo De Sousa, Jean-Luc Hornick, Gijsbert Cornelis van der Weyden, Marcel Antonie Marie Taverne and Jean-François Beckers

Abstract

The aim of this study was to further develop and extensively describe a surgical technique in order to realise long-term fetal blood sampling in the bovine species. Eleven Holstein–Friesian 6- to 8-month pregnant cows (4–10 years old) were used for this study. Gestational age on the day of surgery varied from approximately 180 days (n = 1) to 240 days (minimum: 232 days, maximum 252 days; n = 10). The fetal medial tarsal artery was catheterised in pregnant cows with a polyvinyl catheter in dorsal recumbency under general anaesthesia. Although 5 out of 11 operations (45.5%) performed between 232 and 252 days of gestation were lost due to different causes mainly associated with peritonitis and septicaemia, the mean interval between operations and calvings was 42.5 days (between 27 and 95 days). It is important to emphasise that a well-trained surgical team is needed for bovine fetal cannulation in order to be able to decrease the risk factors during the operations. Due to the fact that after 5 unsuccessful cases none of the pregnancies were lost, this skill can be reached, and our technique can enable bovine fetal blood sampling for long-term endocrinological and physiological investigations before and during parturition.

Open access
Authors: Lea Lénárt, Marcel Taverne, Peter Wolleswinkel, Zoltán Gubik, László Molnár and Ottó Szenci

The aim of this study was to create a fetal heart rate (FHR) reference curve for singleton bovine fetuses in the first trimester of gestation and to determine its possible relationship with the outcome of pregnancy. Forty-eight Holstein-Friesian cows with one fetus and five cows with twins were used. Fetal heart beatings were recorded on videotape during transrectal scanning with a 5 and/or 7.5 MHz linear array transducer on a weekly basis between Days 40 and 95 of gestation. FHR was calculated by averaging the results of five counts of the same record by the same observer. For singleton pregnancies, a reference curve was created using the mean, the standard deviation (SD) and the 5th and 95th percentiles. The FHR increased from Days 40–46 (173 beats/min) to Days 61–67 (183 beats/min). After a peak, the FHR decreased slowly until Days 89–95 (175 beats/min), while the SD increased. There was no significant difference between singleton and twin fetuses. in the aborted and lost fetuses in twin gestation due to fetal reduction, both bradycardia and tachycardia were detected compared to the singleton pregnancy reference curve.

Open access
Authors: Péter Tóth, Csaba Horváth, Viktória Ferencz, Krisztina Nagy, Noémi Gligor, Ottó Szenci and Gábor Bodó

In the first part of this methodological study eleven metacarpi of 9 skeletally normal horses were examined from 4 directions by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The differences between the dorsopalmar-palmarodorsal and lateromedial-mediolateral (opposite sites) bone mineral density (BMD) values were found to be nonsignificant. In the second part of the study the precision of the Norland XR-26 densitometer was tested by measuring 34 metacarpal bones and 34 proximal phalanges, each of them three times, from a single direction. The difference between the individual measurements of the first phalanges and of the metacarpal bones originating from the right or the left side of the same horse were not significant, nor did the age or breed have a significant effect on BMD or bone mineral content (BMC). However, both BMD and BMC are greater in the metacarpal bones than in the proximal phalanges and are higher in geldings than in mares or to stallions, while the BMD or BMC values of mares and stallions did not differ from each other significantly. These data point to the necessity of further BMD studies in a higher number of patients.

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Authors: Zoltán Szelényi, Dorottya Győri, Szabolcs Boldizsár, Levente Kovács, Attila Répási, László Molnár and Ottó Szenci

The aim of this study was to examine the effect of twin pregnancy, fetal laterality, the number of corpora lutea (CL) and cavitary CL on pregnancy losses in Holstein-Friesian cows with a positive pregnancy diagnosis based on ultrasonography between days 29–42 after AI. Pregnancy was confirmed by transrectal palpation between days 57–70 after AI and at the time of drying-off as well. Twin pregnancy rate was 8.4% at the time of the early pregnancy examination. Pregnancy loss did not differ between singleton- and twin-carrying animals either between days 57–70 of gestation or at drying-off. More losses occurred in singletons between days 29–42 and 57–70 in cows with cavitary than in cows with noncavitary CL (12.1% vs. 3.6%; P < 0.05) and in cows with double CL than in cows with single CL (7.3% vs. 3.6% %; P < 0.05). Between days 57–70 of gestation and drying-off this difference was still significant (20.7% vs. 3.7%; P < 0.001), while it was non-significant between cows with one CL (5.7%) vs. double CL (3.7%). Cavity occurrence was not affected by hormone therapy prior to AI (either PGF2α or OvSynch; 4.4% vs. 5.4%, respectively); however, the number of CL was reduced by the treatments (11.6 vs. 19.6%; P < 0.0005). In twin pregnancies there was no difference in the pregnancy losses between bilateral and unilateral pregnancies at any time point. The length of gestation was 278.2 ± 10.5 (singleton) and 267.4 ± 31.2 (twin) days, respectively (P < 0.01). The stillbirth ratio was higher in twin carriers than in singleton carriers (19.5% vs. 5.3%; P < 0.001).

Open access

Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is a neuronal active substance taking part in the regulation of gastrointestinal (GI) tract activity. This study used retrograde neuronal tracing and immunofluorescence methods to analyse NPY-positive neurons located in superior cervical ganglion and supplying the cervical oesophagus in the pig. The presence of NPY was observed in 30% of all neurons supplying the part of oesophagus studied. Probably the number of Fast Blue (FB) positive cells depends on the area of the wall injected with FB and the fragment of oesophagus studied. Therefore, the obtained results indicate that the described peptide is an important factor in the extrinsic innervation of this part of the GI tract.

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Authors: Boglárka Vincze, András Gáspárdy, Levente Kovács, Ervin Albert, Luca Kézér, Ferenc Baska and Ottó Szenci

Transabdominal ultrasonography has been shown to be a useful and reliable method for assessing fetal well-being in horses and cattle. To test the applicability of fetal aortic diameter measurement in cattle, 44 late-term pregnant cows and heifers were examined 21 to 0 days prior to calving. Mean fetal aortic diameter was 2.07 ± 0.14 cm and mean fetal heart rate (FHR) was 109 ± 17 bpm. Three dead calves were dissected and their aortic diameter was measured in a water bath. The mean birth weight (n = 44) was 39.9 ± 5.8 kg. There was a significant negative correlation between FHR and fetal aortic diameter. However, although some studies have shown that fetal aortic diameter strongly correlates with birth weight in near-term horses and cattle, in this study there was no correlation between fetal aortic diameter and birth weight in Holstein-Friesian cows and heifers irrespective of whether the fetus was born alive or dead.

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