Pyometra


Key Points

The word pyometra can be divided into two root words

  • Pyo means pus
  • Metra refers to the uterus

Pyometra starts after a dog goes through a heat cycle, usually within about 3 to 5 weeks

Spaying is the treatment of choice

Prognosis is usually favorable, providing that the patient is not profoundly ill

 

Anatomy

  • The uterus is a Y-shaped organ that has two horns
  • An ovary is located at the end of each horn of the uterus

 

Pathophysiology

  • The word pyometra can be divided into two root words
    • Pyo means pus
    • Metra refers to the uterus
  • Pyometra starts after a dog goes through a heat cycle, usually within about 3 to 5 weeks
  • Stimulation of the uterus with abnormal levels of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) cause the lining of the uterus to become thickened and fluid accumulates inside the uterus
  • Infection develops in the uterus
  • As the infection progresses, the uterus fills with pus
  • If the pet has closed pyometra the cervix is not open and pus cannot drain to the outside
  • If open pyometra is present, the pus can drain through the cervix
  • The infection is life-threatening; closed pyometra may cause a pet to become more ill than open pyometra

 

Clinical signs

  • Pus may or may not drain from the vagina/vulva (see photo below)
  • Increased thirst/increased urination
  • Enlargement of the abdomen as the uterus fills with pus
  • Lethargy
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Enlargement of the abdomen
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Clinical signs are variable from pet to pet

 

 

 

Diagnostic tests

  • Complete blood cell count usually shows an elevated white count
  • Chemistry profile to evaluate function of internal organs
  • Radiographs of the abdomen
  • Ultrasound of the uterus (photo below shows a uterus filled with pus – black structure)
  • Culture of the pus from the uterus
  • Biopsy of the uterus if cancer is suspected

 

 

 

 

 

Treatment

  • Fluid therapy via an IV to correct dehydration
  • Antibiotics
  • Transfusions of plasma, Hetastarch, whole blood
  • Surgical removal of the uterus; photo below shows a very enlarged uterus that is filled with pus

 

 

Nonsurgical Treatment

  • Fluid therapy
  • Antibiotics
  • Prostaglandins help the uterus to expel pus and alters the hormone levels of the ovaries
  • This treatment should not be used if the pet is quite ill
  • This treatment should not be used if your pet has closed pyometra
  • This treatment may not work and surgery will need to be done
  • If this treatment is successful, the next time the dog goes through heat, pyometra will usually recur unless the dog is bred and becomes pregnant

 

Aftercare

  • Antibiotic therapy
  • Restrict activity for 3 weeks
  • Encourage eating and drinking
  • Check incision for signs of infection

 

Potential complications

  • Anesthetic death
  • Bladder infection
  • Peritonitis, which is infection of the abdomen
  • Abdominal abscess formation
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation, which is a clotting disorder from the infection and causes death in many patients.
  • Sepsis – poisoning of the body by toxins from bacteria

 

Prevention of pyometra

  • Simply having your pet spayed at a young age will prevent pyometra and will decrease the risk of mammary cancer

← Back to all Pet Conditions