Ultrasonographic and laparoscopic evaluation of the reproductive tract in older captive female cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus)
Section of Reproduction, Department of Production Animal Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, South Africa; Department of Companion Animal Clinical Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, South Africa; National Zoological Gardens of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa; Cheetah Conservation Fund, Otjiwarongo, Namibia
The study uniquely described the clinical value of transabdominal ultrasonography for monitoring features characterizing the estrous cycle in female cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus). The reproductive tracts of 21 female, iparous, and relatively aged (median: 11 and interquartile range: 9.25-14 years) captive cheetahs resident on two sites in Namibia were assessed by transabdominal ultrasound. Subsequently, the ovarian findings on ultrasound were compared with direct visualization while performing laparoscopic sterilization. A combination of these observations supported by concurrent sampling for vaginal cytology and serum progesterone concentrations defined the estrous status of individual animals. At one site, six cheetahs had been implanted with the GnRH agonist, deslorelin as a contraceptive at least once within the preceding 11 years. On ultrasound, 31 uterine horns and 35 ovaries with discernible structures on 28 (86%) were visualized in the 21 cheetahs. The uterine body was difficult to visualize because of its intrapelvic location. Eleven of 19 uteri (58%) visualized showed endometrial edema suggestive of estrogenization. The uteri of four cheetahs (19%) showed evidence of mild cystic endometrial hyperplasia. Paraovarian cysts were seen on ultrasound (n = 21) and laparoscopy (n = 26) in 16 (76.2%) and 18 (85.7%) cheetahs, respectively. Ovarian volumes obtained from ultrasonographically determined dimensions predicted cyclic activity. Laparoscopy showed that 19 ovaries had discernible follicular structures. In the study population, 10 (47.6%) cheetahs were in proestrus or estrus; none in the luteal phase; and 11 (52.4%) in anestrus. Transabdominal ultrasound, in combination with serum progesterone concentrations and vaginal cytology, was used with acceptable accuracy to assess cyclic ovarian activity in captive cheetahs. A considerable proportion of this aged population showed ovarian activity and the prevalence of paraovarian cysts was notable. A history of prior deslorelin treatment was not associated with either reproductive activity or uterine pathology. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.