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n veterinary practice the diagnosis of chronic endometritis in dairy cattle is
usually based on rectal palpation of the genital tract and / or on vaginoscopy.
Recent studies have shown that subclinical forms of endometritis, not detected
by rectal palpation, can cause depressed fertility. The objective of this study was
to compare three diagnostic methods for the diagnosis of subclinical
endometritis on a commercial dairy farm. All cows were examined by rectal
palpation between day 21 to 27 post partum. Cows without clinical signs of
endometritis at rectal palpation (i.e. enlarged uterus, purulent discharge) were
examined by vaginoscopy (n=110), ultrasound (n=65), and sampling with the
cytohrush technique (n=106).
The proportion of cows that were found affected with signs of endometritis, was
10.9, 42.5 and 58.5 % with vaginoscopy, cytobrush and ultrasound, respectively.
Compared to the cytobrush technique the sensitivity and specificity of
vaginoscopy were 12.3 % and 90.2 %, respectively. With ultrasound as "gold
standard" they were 7.8 % and 96.3 %, respectively. Remarkably, the correlation
of the results of cytobrush and ultrasound methods was low. Comparing
ultrasound with the cytobrush technique as "gold standard" the sensitivity and
specificity were 57.7 % and 40.5 %, respectively. A follow up study will
evaluate both techniques concerning their relationship with reproductive
performance with a large number of cows examined.
Studies by Kasimanickam et al. (2001), and Raab et al. (2002) using the
cytobrush technique, and Lenz et al. (2003) using ultrasound have shown a
negative impact of subclinical endometritis on reproductive performance. The
results of our study have demonstrated the limited diagnostic value of traditional
techniques of examination. Ultrasound and the cytobrush technique both found
significantly more cases of endometritis than vaginoscopy. An adequate
diagnostic method is the basis for efficient post partum treatment and increased
reproductive performance in the current lactation.