Get access

Ultrasound Confirmation of Ovulation in Mares: A Normal Corpus Luteum or a Haemorrhagic Anovulatory Follicle?


Author’s address (for correspondence): J Cuervo-Arango, Departamento de Medicina y Cirugía Animal, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera, 46113 Moncada, Valencia, Spain. E-mail:


The most common pathological anovulatory condition that occurs spontaneously during the breeding season in the mare is the haemorrhagic anovulatory follicle (HAF). A relatively high proportion of mares, soon after ovulation, develop a corpus haemorrhagicum (CH) with a central lacuna. This type of corpora lutea may resemble an HAF, which may complicate the accurate diagnosis of ovulation. The main objective of this study was to compare the ultrasound data of mares examined frequently with HAFs and CHs to elucidate whether it is possible to distinguish them from each other. A total of 135 ovulating mares were classified according to the morphology of the corpus luteum (CL) in mares with: a solid CL, a CH with small or with large central cavities. Ultrasound characteristics of the development of 11 HAF and 13 CHs with a large central cavity were compared. The pre-ovulatory follicular diameter of ovulatory mares was significantly correlated with the diameter of CH with large central cavities. The percentage of mares with post-ovulatory areas eligible to be mistaken with a CH was <25%. Although a predictive diagnosis of an HAF/CH can be made on the basis of several ultrasonographic endpoints, the only parameter that allows a definitive diagnosis is the thickness of the luteal border. This is <3 mm in HAFs in contrast to >5 mm in CHs. However, this only applies when the unidentified structure has non-organized contents.