The objective of this study was to investigate the temporal changes in dilatation of the caudal cervix during induced calvings (n = 5). We used ultrasound cervimetry, allowing the continuous recording of the distance between a transmitting and receiving ultrasound crystal, which were implanted opposite to each other on the caudal rim of the cervix. We started recording between 19 and 21 h after injecting a prostaglandin analogue (PG) on day 272 of gestation. A fluid-filled catheter had been introduced transcervically between the fetal membranes and the uterine wall for measurements of intra-uterine pressure (IUP). While the characteristics of calving varied widely between the five animals, it appeared possible to divide the process of dilatation into four phases. During the latent phase, which lasted until 25-43 h after PG, no net gain in dilatation occurred. We found an acceleration phase (4.3-6.8 h), in which the dilatation rate speeds up (0.49-0.84 cm/h) in three of the cows. During the phase of maximum slope (lasting 0.5-4.8 h), we measured an even higher rate (1.47-8.48 cm/h), decreasing again during the deceleration phase (rate 0.24-2.28 cm/h) in four cows. The quality of the IUP measurements precluded us from continuously investigating the relationship between cervical dilatation and uterine contractions. However, short term simultaneous recordings revealed that the cervical opening changed momentarily in the absence of IUP during the latent phase, while during the phase of maximum slope, temporary changes of dilatation coincided with uterine contractions. We concluded that the method of ultrasound cervimetry used in this study provides a valuable way to study the process of cervical dilatation in parturient cows in vivo.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Breeveld-Dwarkasing, V. N. A., Struijk, P., Eijskoot, F., Lotgering, F., van Dissel-Emiliani, F. M. F., van der Weyden, G., & Taverne, Y. (2002). Ultrasonic cervimetry to study the dilatation of the caudal cervix of the cow at parturition. Theriogenology, 57(8), 1989–2002. doi:10.1016/S0093-691X(01)00722-1