A large proportion of barren mares have endometritis, which can result in failure to conceive, early embryonic death and irregular oestrous cycles. Poor uterine health has a significant economic impact because affected mares often require intensive breeding management and take more cycles to become pregnant, if they fall pregnant at all, all of which incur additional costs to owners.
Confocal laser endomicroscopy (CLE) – a miniaturised microscope inbuilt into a videoendoscope – is a new advanced imaging technique that has potential application in the thoroughbred industry to diagnose endometritis in mares. CLE visualises both surface and subsurface depths of the uterus to allow ‘virtual biopsies’ to be taken rapidly and non-invasively.
This project aimed to determine the optimal time of the mare’s breeding cycle to use CLE for imaging the uterus, and also compare CLE findings with conventional surgical biopsy findings. CLE image quality was found to be best when there was less oedema in the uterus, which coincides with dioestrus or early/late oestrus. Further, CLE imaging results correlated well with conventional surgical biopsy findings.
CLE allows for multiple locations within the uterine lumen to be examined and any areas of interest could be targeted for conventional surgical biopsy versus the standard blinded approach of taking a single biopsy.