Hydrometra in rabbits

Click here for full page view with caption. Hydrometra in a rabbit doe.

Summary Information
Diseases / List of Miscellaneous / Metabolic / Multifactorial Diseases / Disease summary
Alternative Names  
Disease Agents
  • Not specified. (B602.18.w18)
  • Hydrometra has been seen associated with uterine torsion in a rabbit. It was not known whether the torsion initiated the hydrometra or the hydrometra caused the torsion. (J495.40.w1)
Infectious Agent(s) --
Non-infectious Agent(s) --
Physical Agent(s) --
General Description
  • The uterus is filled with watery fluid (transudate). (B601.9.w9, B602.18.w18, J495.41.w4)
Clinical signs
  • Abdomen enlarged or visibly swollen. (J3.125.w3, J27.64.w4, J495.40.w1, J495.41.w4)
  • Increased respiratory rate (in three of four cases). (J3.125.w3); dyspnoea. (J495.41.w4)
    • This is thought to be due to compression of the thorax by the enlarged abdomen. (J495.41.w4)
  • Inappetance (in one of four cases) (J3.125.w3) in two further cases. (J495.40.w1, J495.41.w4)
  • On palpation, a fluid thrill or fluctuation is commonly found. (J3.125.w3, J27.64.w4) 
    • In one case a hard mass was noted caudal to the ribs; this was the liver, displaced by the uterus. (J3.125.w3)
    • No fluid wave was obtained in one case. (J495.41.w4)
  • There may be no clinical signs. (V.w122)
  • Note:
    • Vaginal bleeding/bloody urine is not common with this condition (noted in one of six rabbits with hydrometra in a study of uterine disorders). (J27.64.w4)
    • Rabbits with clinical illness associated with hydrometra have frequently died or required euthanasia 
Gross Pathology
  • Uterus extremely enlarged, filling most of the ventral abdomen, and containing fluid. (J3.125.w3)
    • As much as 500 ml to more than 1 litre of clear fluid present in the uterus. (J3.125.w3, J495.40.w13)
      • One litre in ecah horn of the uterus in one rabbit. (J495.41.w4)
  • In one case, one horn contained clear fluid (about one litre); the other horn contained about the same quantity of sanguinous fluid and there was sloughing of the endometrium; it was thought this was due to ischaemia, either pressure necrosis or transient torsion associated with the hydrometra. (J495.41.w4)
Further Information
  • In a survey, hydrometra was found in 6/47 rabbits with uterine diseases diagnosed by laparotomy; it was the third most common uterine pathology noted. (J27.64.w4) 
    • Average age of affected rabbits was four years (range 3-7.5 years). (J27.64.w4)
    • Note: this condition was fatal in about 50% of affected rabbits, due to high pressure on abdominal organs caused by the enlarged uterus, and the degree of sickness prior to surgery. (J27.64.w4)
  • In Sandy half lop rabbitss kept for serum production, this condition was seen in four individuals, 1-3 years old, out of about 150 non-breeding rabbits over a period of 18 months; no cases were seen in breeding females (similar number) over the same time period). (J3.125.w3)
  • In a two-year-old New Zealand White rabbit. (J495.40.w1)
  • Has been seen as an uncommon (two cases noted by one veterinarian) incidental finding at ovariohysterectomy. (V.w122)
  • Clinical signs including fluid thrill or fluctuation on abdominal percussion. (J3.125.w3, J27.64.w4)
  • Radiographic and ultrasonographic findings of an enlarged, fluid-filled uterus. (J27.64.w4) or abdomen. (J495.41.w4)
  • See: Imaging in Lagomorph Diagnosis and Treatment
  • Abdominocentesis:
    • In one case, transparent pink fluid with specific gravity of 1.008, a protein level of 2.5 g/L and a cell count of 180 per litre; a cell smear revealed mainly red blood cells plus nondegenerate neutrophils and a few mesothelial cells. (J495.40.w1)
    • In one case, 50 mL of sterile, acellular clear watery fluid was collected, consistent with a transudate; protein content was 150 mg/dL, creatinine 1.0 mg/dL and urea nitrogen 22 mg/dL. (J495.41.w4)
    • See: Abdominocentesis and Diagnostic Peritoneal Lavage in Rabbits
  • Necropsy. (J495.41.w4)
  • Note: hydrometra may be an incidental finding at ovariohysterectomy. (V.w122)
  • Supportive care and ovariohysterectomy suggested. (B601.9.w9, B602.18.w18, J3.125.w3)
  • Euthanasia may be an appropriate alternative treatment. (J3.125.w3)
  • Note:
    • Reduction of the uterine size by withdrawal of fluid, plus diuretic treatment for four days (with frusemide) gave an immediate but only very short term (few days) improvement in the condition of one rabbit. (J3.125.w3)
    • Diuresis with furosamide (2.5 mg/kg) daily by subcutaneous injection caused slight reduction in abdominal distention but also dehydration in one rabbit. (J495.41.w4)
Associated Techniques
Host taxa groups /species
Disease Author Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referees Aidan Raftery MVB CertZooMed CBiol MIBiol MRCVS (V.w122)

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