Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Dystocia: fetal

Synonym(s): Malpresentation, malposture

Contributor(s): Prof Gary England, Rob Lofstedt, Michelle Kutzler

Introduction

  • Abnormal parturition/prolonged gestation (more than 65 days).
  • Cause:
    • Fetal oversize or deformity, eg hydrocephalus, conjoined twins.
    • Abnormal fetal presentation, position or posture.
    • Single kitten pregnancy.
  • Signs: abnormal parturition/gestation, strong contraction for >1 hour without birth of kitten.
  • Diagnosis: history, clinical signs, vaginal digital examination, ultrasonography, radiography, vaginoscopy.
  • Treatment: dependent on cause of dystocia; most likely will result in a Caesarean section.
  • Prognosis: good for future fertility; guarded for neonatal survival.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Fetal oversize (genetic predispostion/single kitten).
  • Fetal deformity.
  • Fetal malpresentation/position/posture.
  • Fetal death.
  • Insufficient fetal fluids.
  • Inadequate fetal ACTH stimulus  →  failure to initiate parturition (single kitten pregnancy).

Predisposing factors

General

  • Fetal size.
  • Litter size.
  • Breed (incidence of dystocia more common in brachycephalic breeds than in dolichocephalic breeds).
  • Stress.

Pathophysiology

  • Physiology of feline parturition Parturition has not been well researched, but is likely similar to other mammals.
  • Dystocia may be due to single kitten syndrome, abnormal presentation/position/posture or fetal oversize/deformity. 
  • Single kitten pregnancy  →  primary uterine atony  →  failure to initiate parturition.
  • Posterior presentation is normal in felids - as in other polytocous animals.
  • Fetal malposture (eg shoulder flexion or even breech posture) may not prevent birth in many queens.
  • Fetal oversize/malposture/malposition  →  impacted birth canal  →  myometrial fatigue  →  secondary uterine atony.

Timecourse

  • 3-4 hours after the onset of parturition in cases of secondary uterine inertia brought on by fetal dystocia.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Holst B S, Axnér E, Öhlund M et al (2017) Dystocia in the cat evaluated using an insurance database. J Feline Med Surg 19 (1), 42-47 PubMed.
  • Smith F O (2012) Guide to emergency interception during parturition in the dog and cat. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 42 (3), 489-499 PubMed.
  • Pretzer S D (2008) Medical management of canine and feline dystocia. Theriogenology 70 (3), 332-336 PubMed.
  • Traas A M (2008) Surgical management of canine and feline dystocia. Theriogenology 70 (3), 337-342 PubMed.


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