Ultrasounding 101 (Part One)

    In this installment, we look at the anatomy of an ultrasound machine and of a mare.

    Ultrasounding 101 (Part One) Ultrasounding 101 (Part One)

    Billings Livestock February Sale

    The sale will offer 700 head, including 150 head of “black-type” pedigreed horses.

    Billings Livestock February Sale Billings Livestock February Sale

    Peer Recognition – Dr. Wayne Burwash

    The 2015 Alberta Horse Industry Distinguished Service Award Winner.

    Peer Recognition – Dr. Wayne Burwash Peer Recognition - Dr. Wayne Burwash

    January/February Sneak Peek

    On newsstands and in your mailbox now.

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    Life is too short for flat hair.

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    Growing the Horse Industry

    The time capsule letter-to-myself I recently discovered and my 9-point plan.

    Growing the Horse Industry Growing the Horse Industry

Ultrasounding 101 (Part One)

An ultrasound machine. Pic by Jenn Webster

An ultrasound machine. Pic by Jenn Webster

‘Tis the season! Breeding season is once again upon us and whatever your plans may be this year, it never hurts to brush up on a little equine reproduction education before making those vet appointments for your mare. And speaking of which – during a routine ultrasound examination of your mare, have you ever felt like Rachel in the episode of Friends, following her own ultrasound exam? You know, the old episode depicting Rachelʼs frustration when she was unable to see her own pregnancy on the ultrasound monitor… yet all her friends could pick it out without a problem?

If you ever felt the same way while having your vet ultrasound your mare for breeding, keep reading. Ultrasonography is a complex procedure that uses sound vibrations with an ultrasonic frequency, for medical imaging. But when the ultrasound process is broken down, it isnʼt as difficult to understand, nor are its resulting images confusing to view. Ultrasonography is particularly beneficial for monitoring a mareʼs cycle, ovarian or uterine disease and pregnancy.

If you have a craving to better understand what your vet is explaining about your mareʼs cycle and perhaps her subsequent pregnancy, this two-part article will explain how ultrasonography works and why it is beneficial for equine reproduction. Plus you can also follow the growth of a follicle in a typical pregnancy along, through the use of ultrasound imaging.

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Anatomy of an ultrasound machine.

Anatomy of an ultrasound machine.

1. Transducer – usually a flat piece, connected by a long cord, placed directly on/in the
horseʼs body in the area intended for ultrasonographic imaging.
2. Pulser
3. Timer
4. TV echo display
5. Receiver
6. Digital scan converter

HOW IT WORKS:
Sound waves are created by electrical stimulation of crystals in the transducer. When trying to determine where a mare is at in terms of her cycle or pregnancy, because of the sheer size of the horse, the transducer is placed inside the mareʼs rectum directly overtop of the reproductive tract. When the electric current is applied to crystals in the transducer, vibrations are produced that result in sound waves.

These waves are then spread through the horseʼs tissue and some of them are reflected back to the transducer. (The number of reflected sound waves is directly proportional to the density of the horseʼs tissue). The reflected waves are converted to electrical impulses and displayed on a screen (most often, a black and white monitor).

The reflected waves are represented on the screen by shades of gray, extending from black to white. Fluid is a great transmitter for sound waves, therefore, liquid structures such as follicular fluid or yolk sac fluid within the horseʼs body appear black on the screen. Dense tissue in the body reflect most of the ultrasonic beam and appear white on the screen – these structures include the cervix and pelvis. Other tissues appear in varying shades of gray, depending on their ability to reflect sound waves. Air and gas are poor propagators of the signals, which is why the vet must maintain a close contact between the transducer and the examined tissue.

Modern ultrasound machines used for examining the reproductive tract are “B-Mode”, real time scanners. B-mode means “brightness modality” and the imaging from these machines results in a two-dimensional display of dots of the screen. The brightness of the dots is proportional to the amplitude of the returning echoes. And the real time imaging means a “live” or moving display of the echoes that are being recorded, can be seen.

Although there are two types of ultrasound transducers used for reproductive exams in horses, typically, our vets use linear-array transducers. Linear array means there is a side-by-side arrangement of the rectangular crystals, along the length of the transducer. The transducer is positioned in the longitudinal plane of the mareʼs body, which means images of the cervix and the uterine body are longitudinally oriented while the uterine horns are cross sectional. Tissues that are closest to the transducer can be seen at the top of the ultrasound screen.

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ANATOMY OF THE MAREʼS GENITAL TRACT

Anatomy
The red lines on this diagram represent typical linear array transducer orientations, over the genital tract during an exam. When the transducer is over the cervix and uterine body (1), a lengthwise (longitudinal) image is produced. The uterine horn is generally seen in short-axis cross-section (2), which allows assessment of the endometrial folds. Sections through the ovary show follicles and Corpus luteums cut in different planes (3).

The bifurcation of the uterus. This is where the uterus is “Y” shaped and branches off into the left and right horns, from the single uterine body.

The bifurcation of the uterus. This is where the uterus is “Y” shaped and branches off into the left and right horns, from the single uterine body.

 

The right ovary, as seen with ultrasound imaging.

The right ovary, as seen with ultrasound imaging.

 

The left ovary, as seen with ultrasound imaging.

The left ovary, as seen with ultrasound imaging.

DEFINITIONS
Echogenic – if an item is echogenic, it will appear white on the ultrasound screen. Dense tissues reflect most of the ultrasonic beam.
Non-echogenic – if an item is non-echogenic, it will appear black on the ultrasound screen. Fluid and liquid containing structures are excellent transmitters of sound waves.
Estrous Cycle – the repetitive sequence of hormonal cycling that prepares the mare for conception. It may be divided into estrus (follicular phase – 5 to 7 days)) and diestrus (luteal phase – 14 to 16 days.)
Conceptus – the embryo in the uterus, especially during the early stages of pregnancy.

Stay tuned to My Stable Life to follow a follicle along in ultrasound images, plus a pregnancy story in pictures! Thank-you to Dr. Tammi Roalstad of Scottsdale, AZ, for providing the ultrasound images and information used in this article.

Billings Livestock February Sale

billingsBigger, better and loaded with finished performance horses, arena prospects, and good geldings galore – this year’s “February Special Catalog Sale” at Billings Livestock Commission Horse Sales, Billings, Montana, February 27-28 and March 1 features a first class line-up

The sale will offer 700 head, including 150 head of “black-type” pedigreed horses – all in one weekend, all in one place, and all for sale. .

An indoor, climate and ground controlled preview designed to allow the buyers to fairly shop the offering is set for Friday, February 27 at 10 a.m. and will showcase the barrel and pole horses, four sets of cutting horses, saddle, ride, and reining horses, in addition to calf horses and team roping horses.

Stallion sons of Metallic Cat, High Brow Cat, Peptoboonsmal, Dash Ta Fame will sell, along with mares by A Streak of Fling, Peptoboonsmal, High Brow Cat, Doc’s Sytlish Oak, Dual Pep, Freckles Playboy and more.

To see what’s coming now, please visit www.billingslivestock.com or call Bill and Jann Parker, BLS Horse Sale managers at 406.855.1947.

 

Peer Recognition – Dr. Wayne Burwash

Distinguished-Service-Award-2On January 10, 2015, at the 33rd annual Horse Breeders and Owners Conference, the Horse Industry Association of Alberta (HIAA) proudly presented the Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Wayne Burwash in recognition of his lasting influence and contributions to the equine industry in the province.

Dr. Burwash grew up on a mixed dairy farm in Balzac, Alberta. He graduated with distinction from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) from their first graduating class in 1969 and, after an internship, joined The Animal Clinic in 1970. Early in his career, he was the first to do Commercial Embryo Transfer in Canada with Bob Church from the University of Calgary. In 1977, the clinic split up from being a mixed practice and Dr. Burwash decided to open his own clinic specializing in equine: Burwash Equine Services.

Along with his clinical duties at the practice, he served as a mentor for other veterinarians including Dr. Claude Piche, who is now a leading diabetes researcher in humans and Dr. Gayle Trotter, who was the head of surgery at Colorado State University. Since 1980, Dr. Burwash has been the President Veterinary Commission of all international competitions at Spruce Meadows. His success as a veterinarian has led to accolades such as being named Veterinarian of the Year by the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association in 2000 and the Communicators Award in 2004. Burwash Equine Services have been a part of the Distributed Veterinary Learning Community with the University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine since its inception.

Burwash-1-2

However, his leadership in the Alberta horse industry is not limited to the veterinary profession. Dr. Burwash was a founder of the Alberta Quarter Horse Breeders Group, helping to establish quality horse sales locally as well as internationally by marketing Alberta-bred horses to Europe. As a producer of American Quarter Horses for over four decades, he has been a leading breeder for the Alberta Horse Improvement Program, breeding champions such as Kilomax, Lopin Foran Invite, and Soo Good. Dr. Burwash has served on the executive and on numerous committees, within leading organizations such as the AQHA, ABVMA, Equine Canada, FEI, AAEP, and at the local equine colleges. He has demonstrated exemplary leadership in equine welfare, breed improvement, and research.

HIAA President, Jean Kruse, states, “Dr. Wayne Burwash truly fits the definition of what it means to offer distinguished service. His contributions to the equine industry past and present have not just been based in Alberta but globally. I’m thrilled that he was chosen as this year’s recipient and is definitely a worthy member of this exclusive club.”

The first Alberta Horse Industry Distinguished Service Award was presented at the 2000 Horse Breeders and Owners Conference to Bill Collins. Since then the outstanding recipients have included: 2001 – Marg and Ron Southern; 2002 – Hans Hansma; 2003 – Joe Selinger; 2004 – Bruce Roy; 2005 – Dave Robson; 2006 – Dr. David Reid; 2007 – John Scott; 2008 – Doug Milligan; and in 2009 – Eldon Bienert and Peggy McDonald.

Nominations are accepted annually and given on merit of the nominations; candidates are evaluated based on significance of accomplishments, public benefit, industry credibility, and potential for continued contributions. The award is be presented to the nominee that has had the greatest impact on the growth and development of the horse industry in Alberta in one or more of the following areas: breeding, manufacturing, facilities, organization, education, auction sales, export sales, training people and horses, or communication.

January/February Sneak Peek

Jan2015cover

The first of our 2015 issues is on newsstands now. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in it. (If you’re not a subscriber, you’re really missing out – subscribe here, and in the meantime look for it on your local newsstand.) As you can get from our cover, trainer Martin Black captured our attention for this issue. Jenn […]

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Life’s too short for flat hair. I was recently asked by a Western Horse Review fan, “What is the deal with the hair?” She wondered why she’d never seen a queen with straight hair and why on earth do the curls have to be so big? She even joked about the greenhouse gas emissions from […]

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This school assignment I recently stumbled upon from my Grade Two year could have almost been a time capsule letter to myself.

After a visit to my mother’s this week, I stumbled upon something that absolutely stopped me in my tracks. My mom – a lady known for her inability to throw anything away that might have sentimental value – had kept the above paper assignment I had written in Grade Two. Of course, I didn’t remember […]

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Surely at one time or another we’ve all been sweet on the charming young gals flying around the rodeo arena in their spangled outfits and accoutrements – the princesses and queens, all curls and smiles beneath their glitzy cowboy hats. Recently, at one of our fall editorial brainstorming sessions, we wondered what the real life of […]

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Broccoli Salad is a wonderful thing. It’s a perfect side dish to a hearty winter meal, and a meal in itself on a warm day. I used to think it was such a difficult salad to make – until I realized it was really a breeze, as long as I had the correct fresh ingredients […]

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Christmas has come and gone and a new year has begun! I hope y’all had a wonderful break, filled with happy memories and times of friends or family. We most certainly did. Though our New Year celebration was relatively quiet, I feel like I’ve already hit the ground running  in 2015. I’m not one for big […]

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