Application of Doppler Ultrasonography in Cattle Reproduction


Author's address (for correspondence): Kathrin Herzog, Bischofsholer Damm 15, 30173 Hannover, Germany. E-mail:


The development of Doppler processing extended the scope of sonographic imaging from an anatomical to a physiological basis. This technique became established as a clinical tool in human gynaecology. For example, it has been discussed that the implantation of an embryo is influenced by the uterine blood flow. In cows, this uterine blood flow was investigated, using surgically implanted Doppler ultrasonic or electromagnetic blood flow probes prior to the introduction of colour Doppler sonography in bovine medicine. Therefore, the aims of our studies were to use transrectal Doppler sonography for the non-invasive measurement of uterine and ovarian blood flow in cows and to determine changes in genital perfusion during the oestrous cycle, pregnancy and puerperium, respectively. The results of our studies show that transrectal flow imaging can be used to obtain blood flow velocity waveforms from the uterine arteries at any time during the oestrous cycle, pregnancy and puerperium. During all these phases, characteristic changes in the uterine blood flow could be observed. This uterine blood flow was low during diestrus and high during proestrus and oestrus. During pregnancy, an exponential rise in uterine blood supply could be detected. There was a positive relationship between the uterine blood flow volume (BFV) at the end of gestation and the birth weight of calves. During puerperium, the uterine BFV declined tremendously, especially during the first week after birth. In cows, with pathological disturbances of the pueperium a delayed decrease in the uterine BFV was observed. Characteristic alterations occurred also in the luteal blood flow during the oestrous cycle, which were highly related to those of the progesterone levels. Furthermore, it has been detected by the colour Doppler technique that there is no decrease, but an increase of the luteal blood flow at the beginning of luteolysis in cows. Another group has found that there are close relationships between the LH-surge and the follicular blood flow before ovulation. In conclusion, these studies show that transrectal colour Doppler sonography is a useful technique for the investigation of the genital blood flow and provides new information about physiological changes of the genital organs during, all reproductive phases. The influence of the genital blood flow on fertility in cows needs to be examined further in future studies.