It was only my second day on my ambulatory dairy based rotation in Vermont. We were heading out to correct a possible uterine torsion at a farm on the outskirts of town. On arrival, there were four cows in the pen and no one around to tell us which animal it was. After looking for the obviously pregnant candidates, we secured those two into headlocks. Having never felt a torsed uterus before, I palpated both of the cows and they felt normal. My overseeing veterinarian agreed. At this point, the farmer arrived and told us it was the last cow that we had thought it would be.
After locking her up in a headlock, I got to palpate and could clearly feel the taught ligament, running from the right tuber coxae area down towards the left side of the uterus. The uterus had twisted counterclockwise, the more common way for it to spin. Due to the length of time she had been straining before we were called in, it was decided she would need an epidural. While I’ve seen it many times in practice, this was my first time performing one. With a quick needle stick into the correct location, we moved on to correct the problem.
After vaginally palpating and assessing her slight dilation, I could feel a calf leg. The two lower joints flexed in opposite directions and the fact that I could feel a tail indicated the calf was backward in the uterus and the calf needed to come out quickly. The veterinarian thought that this uterus could be flipped by hand without using a technique called plank in the flank. As one of the bigger guys, he thought I would be able to do it. So I reached in, grabbed ahold of the rightmost femur and began to slowly rock the calf in a clockwise direction. After a few strong rocking motions, I could feel the cervix dilate a bit along with a small rush of fluids out of the vagina. Apparently, I had just flipped my first uterus.
Both rear legs were exteriorized and chains were placed. The cervix was dilated by hand and the calf was pulled out of the animal without many further issues. Surprisingly the heifer calf was still alive. Typically, these kinds of reproductive issues occur when the dam has twins but no further babies or uterine tears were palpated. The farmer was very happy with our work and the outcome and I left the farm having learned a few new skills.