Tel.+49 30 838 62618 Fax.+49 30 838 62620
The overall objective of this study was to investigate how relevant research publications address the validity of diagnostic methods for acute puerperal metritis (APM) in dairy cows, a disease commonly treated with antibiotic drugs. Therefore, a literature search was conducted in Journal of Dairy Science, Theriogenology, Animal Reproduction Science and The Veterinary Journal utilizing the ScienceDirect database. The search revealed 259 articles addressing APM. After applying exclusion criteria, a total of 48 trials remained. It was determined whether the author gave a clear definition of APM, the time of diagnosis relative to calving, and the person who performed the diagnosis. Studies were checked for the presence of definitions of possible findings, thresholds, and test characteristics of the methods used. Overall 9 different diagnostic methods were employed. On average 2·5 ± 1·75 diagnostic methods were used in a study. References to support the use of the diagnostic methods were provided in 10 of 48 articles (20·8%). Vaginal discharge, transrectal palpation and rectal temperature were examined in 39, 22, and 21 of the studies, respectively. Thresholds for diagnostic tests and test characteristics were mentioned in 6 and 3 of the 48 articles, respectively. Based on this systematic review of 48 research papers the evidence supporting the use of the diagnostic methods to identify cows with APM has either been not reported or is weak. In conclusion, the reporting of the diagnostic methods to identify cows with APM needs to be improved and further high-quality research is necessary to improve diagnostic performance of the methods employed.