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E.I. Medical Imaging Portable Ultrasound Solution Blog

Are You Pregnancy Checking Using A Portable Ultrasound This Fall?

Posted by Jim Turner on Thu, Sep 05, 2013 @ 09:53 AM

pregnancy checking your herdI am an avid reader of Bovine Magazine, okay I have a confession, I am not a hard copy magazine guy as I like to get my news and information in the digital world using my phone or tablet.  We pay very close attention to what is happening in the bovine veterinary world as a large portion of our target demographic comes from the bovine veterinary market.  In fact, we currently have a campaign to help the veterinarian with their practice in the bovine market in both the beef and dairy segments.  Our campaign is about, "Helping your practice makes perfect sense." We feel a responsibility to help the veterinarian with their everyday practice to insure they are getting the most from our Ibex® Portable Ultrasound System.

In a recent article produced by Dave Sparks, DVM of the Oklahoma State University Extension, he brings up why food animal veterinarians should be pregnancy checking their herds now instead of waiting later.  His points I want to highlight include the following:

  • Far too many small to midsized cattle producers are saving pennies by not pregnancy testing while wasting dollars by not knowing which cows are open.

  • The old standby for pregnancy checking is rectal palpation.  In this procedure the veterinarian enters through the rectum and palpates the reproductive tract through the rectal wall.

  • Ultrasound will detect earlier pregnancies than most operators can detect confidently by rectal palpation and also may show pathological conditions that rectal palpation may miss. (emphasis added)

  • A disadvantage is that it will take several days to be notified of the results so you probably will need to re-gather the cows to sort off the open ones.  Another disadvantage is that it only tells you if the cow is pregnant or open and gives no indication of how far along the pregnancy is.  Rectal palpation and ultrasound will indicate fairly closely what stage of pregnancy the cow is in. (emphasis added)

For obvious reasons we would love all producers to be pregnancy checking their herds using the ultrasound method instead of using either the palpation method or using the blood test method.

Addressing each point above I can say that the first of his points is a common sense approach to handling your herd.  Anytime you are not pregnancy checking your herd, you are rolling the dice as to whether your cows are open. Spending money on cows that are open and will not be producing a return on investment is a gamble. I should point out however that it is a cost and one that has to be weighed with all the other factors of managing the herd for the best return.

Ibex® Customizable Extention (I.C.E.)In point two, I thought it important that we address the idea that rectal palpation has a very similar procedure to ultrasound.  An ultrasound has the same rectal entry point that requires a veterinarian to check using their arm, but by using the Ibex® Customizable Extension (I.C.E.) handle, an "arm free" accessory, the procedure could be less invasive. The veterinarian saves wear and tear on the cow and more importantly perhaps, their arm.

In the third idea I have added some emphasis on the point that ultrasound shows some fairly significant differences to rectal palpation that are very important.  An example of a difference would be whether the fetus is a viable fetus. There are many chances to misdiagnose a pregnant cow using palpation when palpation or feeling a viable fetus is not usually possible by just feel. It is tough to feel a heartbeat.  Other abnormalities of a fetus, that may not be seen from palpation and only on ultrasound, may be missed and the pregnancy may turn out to be incorrect. In this instance seeing is believing.

In the final point, I have added emphasis to the idea that blood testing cows appears to be a cumbersome and time consuming process.  Time is not always the friend of the producer and something that needs to be weighed into the herd management plan.  The last emphasis in the final point is on the idea that blood testing cannot show at what stage the pregnancy is in or the gestation of the cow. This may be an important factor in the management of the herd. And it should also be noted that blood testing cows does not take into account false positives of cows that may have a fetus that is not viable or has an abnormality.  This is something that needs to be addressed in the decision making process.

It appears that Dr. Sparks would have us believe that using ultrasound for pregnancy checking cows is cost prohibitive to the producers and that this method might be too expensive hurting the bottom line for the management of the herd.  It was pointed out that regions and pricing varies, and we have not collected enough data to make a pronouncement of the costs involved in any of the processes mentioned. This is something that veterinarians and their clients should discuss.  It may be that palpation and ultrasound are about the same price, making more sense to go with ultrasound. The cost of blood testing appears to be less but by the time you add all the added process and the cost of shipping and waiting, I think it is a costly and not an exact process with a good return on investment. Until blood testing is more of a contemporary test providing real time results it does not seem like the best choice.

Our recent campaign is to help veterinarians and their practice. To us this makes perfect sense.  We would love to have you contact us to determine if buying an ultrasound makes sense for you and your practice. Right now in the month of September we have a program that allows you to buy an Ibex® Portable Ultrasound at never before seen prices.  If you are a producer, ask your veterinarian to use ultrasound on your herd. We want to help the veterinarian but we also want to help you!

Let us know, are you performing ultrasound, blood testing or palpating your herd?  Are you pregnancy checking your herd this fall?  If not, you might want to explore the opportunity to succeed.

 

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Tags: cow ultrasound, Bovine ultrasound, Veterinary Business, veterinary practice tips, beef cattle ultrasound, beef cow ultrasound, Arms free bovine ultrasound, beef heifer ultrasound, herd management, veterinary business marketing

Benefits of Using The Ibex® Ultrasound to Bovine Fetal Aging

Posted by Mia Varra on Fri, Jul 12, 2013 @ 04:00 AM

written by: Mia Varra and Dr. Paul Chard


beef ultrasound paul chardIn the heat of the summer when all your time, energy and effort is devoted to raising and bailing hay, combining corn, fencing and keeping clean cool water flowing for your cattle it's hard to think that it's time to start preg checking. But we all know how the time flies, especially in the busy summer.

Using ultrasound to preg check heifers and cows is an invaluable money making management practice for any herd. Finding females in your herd of cattle that did not breed early will completely pay for the extra cost of using ultrasound and allow you to make management decisions with those cull animals right now! 

Another benefit of using ultrasound to pregnancy detect your cows is increasing your knowledge of what's coming down the road. My husband and I started using ultrasound to group our cows in the Fall on corn stalk fields and winter pasture in smaller more manageable groups for calving. We sorted these smaller groups by determining the fetal age of the calf at preg check time. This allowed us to get the absolute most out of our low cost Fall feed and to have smaller more manageable groups to calve. This has proven to pay our cow-calf operation back in profit and labor. 

We've learned from trial and error that as our veterinarian, Dr. Paul Chard, preg checks using the Ibex® ultrasound, he calls out "Pregnant" or "Open" he also adds the fetal age so that we can sort them into pens as the cow or heifer comes out of the chute. This pregnant female will now be managed through the next 6-9 months by this fetal age group sort.

If you are a bovine veterinarian and looking to improve your knowledge and skills in fetal aging with your portable ultrasound, here are a few tips from Dr. Chard.

 

How is this information (i.e. fetal age) best used by the cattleman?


Most producers have recognized that reproductive efficiency has a very direct impact on their herd profitability. Many operations are opting for a shorter calving season (45-60 days). This helps to increase weaned calf uniformity and eliminate less productive individuals. These operations will often cull cows that will calve later and therefore wean a smaller and less valuable calf. It is essential to have accurate fetal ages in order to ensure that these culling decisions are based on solid information.


If you were training a veterinarian or intern how to properly fetal age, what steps would you go about to teach them?


The first step in learning how to properly age pregnancies is to gain a decent amount of manual palpation experience so that the mechanics of entering a cow and maneuvering around the anatomy is familiar. I firmly believe that the only way to establish that an individual is non-pregnant is to scan the entire reproductive tract starting from the cervix with the body of the uterus and down each uterine horn to the tip. Only then can you truly be sure that the uterus does not contain a pregnancy. This maneuver does require some amount of skill in manipulation of the reproductive tract. There is little value in providing ultrasound pregnancy exam as a service to beef producers if your accuracy of finding non-pregnant animals isn't 100 percent. Each pregnant animal that is misdiagnosed as open will cost the producer several hundred if not thousands of dollars, may cause an unnecessary loss of life and will get the veterinarian fired.

With a basic understanding of ultrasound technology, the trainee should then review captured sonogram images and videos to familiarize themselves with fetal anatomy targets of interest as well as what normal looks like in various stages of gestation. The trainee should also become familiar with gestation tables that are used for fetal aging in various stages of gestation.

bovine ultrasound fetal aging

 

The next step is for the trainee to actually ultrasound some cattle with the trainer observing the live ultrasound images. This is best done with the trainee using a portable ultrasound with the trainer observing by simultaneous wired headset monitor or by using a wireless monitor. The wireless monitor is truly the best and most efficient way of training as the trainer does not have any physical interference with the trainee but can give audible directions. The wireless monitor also allows an otherwise reluctant producer to observe first hand the images that the inexperienced trainee is generating. This is a teaching opportunity for the trainer veterinarian to build trust with the client and the trainee.

Initially it is easiest for a new trainee to start with cattle that are somewhere between 45 and 90 days in gestation so that there is a reduced amount of required physical manipulation and the entire pregnant uterus is easily reachable in the pelvic canal. Several hundred head of cattle are required for a new trainee to become proficient at fetal aging, but with proper equipment, trainee preparation and coaching the learning curve is very steep.


Why do you use crown measurement?


I use fetal head diameter to determine fetal age in most cases because it is the most accurate measurement across the widest range of gestation in cattle. The head is the easiest place to capture a consistent measurement of the same anatomical position on every fetus.

 
Does fetal aging require more time in each cow for examination? Approximately how long does it take to examine every cow?


Fetal aging does require more slightly time than just calling "bred/open". I argue that this difference is negligible if you are comparing "open/bred" to fetal aging while assessing fetal viability to ensure accuracy in both cases. Time required for a proper ultrasound pregnancy exam depends greatly on other circumstances such as ultrasound equipment, cattle restraint equipment, cattle temperament and cattle handling skills of the crew that you are working with. While wearing my IBEX portable ultrasound with InSite headset monitor the actual amount of time that I spend in the cow is somewhere between 10 and 30 seconds for a complete fetal aging and viability exam. This quite often allows me enough time to also operate my portable hydraulic chute and not be holding up the flow of cattle.


Any final comments or tips to give a ultrasounder that may be “guessing” fetal age instead of measuring or using the grid to age?


I use the full-screen grid for measuring head diameter for fetal aging with great efficiency and accuracy. I think that there is a great enough advantage in accuracy over guessing that I owe it to my clients to use this technology.

 More videos of bovine crown fetal aging ultrasound by Dr. Paul Chard:

 Bovine Fetal Crown

Bovine Fetal eye

Bovine fetal nostril and nose

Bovine Fetal Crown

Bovine Fetal Crown

 

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Tags: Bovine fetal aging using ultrasound, cattle preg check, benefits of bovine ultrasound, bovine fetal aging, beef cattle ultrasound, beef cow ultrasound, beef heifer ultrasound

IBEX Portable Ultrasound: Scan a Bovine Umbilical Abscess

Posted by Mia Varra on Fri, Sep 16, 2011 @ 04:26 AM

Attached are some bovine ultrasound scans from an umbilical abscess in a 3 month old beef heifer calf on grass submitted by Dr. Paul Chard, Brush Colorado (Follow Dr Chard on twitter @CattleVet)

Dr. Paul Chard said,  "The owner called and asked me to come look at this calf and my biggest worry was that it might be an umbilical hernia.  In a beef calf at that age I rarely see umbilical abscesses.  Those commonly show up in younger calves secondary to omphalitis (postnatal umbilical infection).  My most likely differential pre-exam was umbilical hernia."

"We head and heel roped this calf in the pasture.  The mass was too firm to effectively palpate for the presence or absence of abdominal contents or a defect in the body wall.  Within 10 seconds I was able to make a definitive diagnosis of umbilical abscess and lance and drain the abscess before the calf became stressed out. Try that with an Aloka", commented Dr. Chard.

"The images show thickened skin with a 7mm thick abscess wall.  The fluid shown is flocculent indicating the presence of purulent fluid (pus).  The umbilicus is clearly visible and is well out if harm's way for surgical drainage of the abscess".

Bovine Ultrasound umbilical abcess

"In contrast, an umbilical hernia would have had multiple loops of bowel or at the least omentum shown on the image."

bovine umbilical abscess ultrasound

 

cow ultrasound

"The Ibex  portable ultrasound allowed me to more efficiently and humanely treat this animal in its own environment without leaving its mother for a trip to the clinic, ended Dr. Paul Chard".

Follow more by Dr. Chard on twitter @CattleVet

What do you use your IBEX Ultrasound to Diagnosis in the field? Send us your story! info@eimedical.com

 Click Here For A Free  Ibex® Portable Ultrasound Demo

Tags: bovine umbilical abscess, cow ultrasound, bovine ultraound, beef cow ultrasound

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