Farmers often call about cattle with a prolapse. Different sorts of prolapses have different levels of urgency. There are two main types of prolapse we see in cattle, vagino-cervical prolapse or uterine prolapse, though rectal prolapses and preputial prolapse.
A vagino-cervical prolapse usually occurs when mature cows are in the last weeks of pregnancy. It is due to increased pressure in the abdomen from a growing calf, high abdominal fat, or rumen distention; acting with the pre-partum hormone driven relaxation of the pelvic girdle.
Vaginal prolapses usually appear as small pink tissue bulges from the vulval lips of 15cm or less. As long as these do not increase in size or start bleeding these small vaginal prolapses are unlikely to require veterinary assistance. Cattle with small vaginal prolapses should be monitored as the condition can develop further into a Vagino-cervical prolapse, requiring veterinary aid.
Vagino-cervical prolapses are when both the tissue of the vagina and the cervix are protruding from the vulval lips. These require replacement into the correct position so that trauma and subsequently infection do not occur, and so that urination is not obstructed. Veterinarians will use an epidural to provide pain relief for this procedure. Once the cervix and vagina are in their normal position they will be kept in place. This is often done use buhner suture or a prolapse button to hold the prolapsed tissue inside the vulva. This prevents trauma, allows urination and the swelling to decrease.
A uterine prolpase occurs in the first few minutes to hours post-calving while the cervix and uterus are large and flaccid. It is related to traumatic births, retained placenta, low blood calcium levels, and lack of exercise. These are life-threatening, but with prompt minimally traumatic replacement cows can fully recover and go on to have normal pregnancies in the future. Emergency veterinary assistance should always be called in the case of uterine prolapse.
Veterinarians will use a combinaion of sedation, epidural, calcium treatment, pain relief and antibiotics for Uterine Prolapse cows. Unfortuately the uterus may already be seriously damaged by the time you find the cow, this can complicate recovery or even results in the death of the cow.