Vestibular/Vulval Lesions in Elephants:

Summary Information
Diseases / List of Miscellaneous / Metabolic / Multifactorial Diseases / Disease summary
Alternative Names
  • Vestibular cysts in elephants
  • Vestibular polyps in elephants
  • Vestibular scars in elephants
  • Vestibular fistulae in elephants

See also: Lymphoid Follicular Vulvitis in Elephants (Miscellaneous Disease Link)

Disease Agents
  • No agent or aetiology has been identified for either vestibular cysts or vestibular polyps. (J54.19.w1)
  • Known causes of vestibular scars include urogenital infection, mechanical injury during mating or parturition, episiotomy for artificial insemination and injury due to incorrect use of an ankhus. (J54.19.w1)
  • Permanent vestibular fistulae have developed following episiotomy for treatment of dystocia. (J54.19.w1)
  • Abnormalities of the reproductive tract are common in captive elephants and appear to be associated with early puberty and a long delay from puberty to first pregnancy. (J23.40.w1)
Infectious Agent(s) --
Non-infectious Agent(s) --
Physical Agent(s) --
General Description

A variety of vestibular (urogenital canal) and vulval lesions have been described in elephants. (B450.21.w21, J54.19.w1)

  • In a study population, 44 elephants at 27 zoos were recorded as having lesions of the urogenital canal and vulva; these lesions were recorded as "polyps, papillomas. sarcomas, nodules, vesicles, ulcers, erosions, papules, lesions, or hyperplasia." (B450.21.w21)

Vestibular cysts

Vestibular polyps

  • Polyps of the urogenital canal and vulva were reported in an unspecified number of elephants in a population study. (B450.21.w21, J4.189.w6)
  • An ultrasonographic study of the urogenital tract in elephants revealed a high incidence (70%) of vestibular polyps in Loxodonta africana - African Elephant cows older than 30 years old. (J54.19.w1)
  • There was no indication of any direct impact of the polyps on reproductive health of the elephants. (J54.19.w1)
  • Vestibular polyps are found only in Loxodonta africana - African Elephant; they are found in about 70% of females over 30 years of age which have been given limited opportunities to breed (J23.40.w1)
  • Vestibular polyps are cone-shaped. (J23.40.w1)
  • A large polyp in the urogenital canal of a 25-year-old Loxodonta africana - African Elephant was found to be a fibropapilloma. (J4.189.w6)

Vestibular scars

  • Vestibular scars, in the mucosa and/or underlying muscle, were found in the narrowest part of the urogenital canal, the pelvic rim region, in 12 elephants. (J54.19.w1)
  • Causes varied and included urogenital infection, mechanical injury during mating or parturition, episiotomy for artificial insemination and injury due to incorrect use of an elephant hook. (J54.19.w1)
  • Vestibular scars may be painful; elephants with such scars "sometimes reacted strongly to rectal and vestibular palpation or avoid natural mating." (J54.19.w1)

Vestibular fistula

  • Permanent vestibular fistulae were present in two Elephas maximus - Asian Elephant which had undergone episiotomy for treatment of dystocia. They caused less apparent discomfort than did internal vestibular scars. (J54.19.w1)

Lymphoid hyperplasia


  • Chronic non-suppurative inflammation was diagnosed in four cases in which lesions had been biopsied. (B450.21.w21)

Pox virus infection

Further Information --
Associated Techniques
Host taxa groups /species

Further information on Host species has only been incorporated for species groups for which a full Wildpro "Health and Management" module has been completed (i.e. for which a comprehensive literature review has been undertaken).

(List does not contain all other species groups affected by this disease)

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