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Contrast-enhanced ultrasonography of maternal and fetal blood flows in pregnant bitches

Orlandi, Riccardo, Vallesi, Emanuela, Boiti, Cristiano, Polisca, Angela, Troisi, Alessandro, Righi, Cecilia, Bargellini, Paolo
Theriogenology 2019 v.125 pp. 129-134
adverse effects, bitches, fetus, gestational age, placenta, pregnancy, quantitative analysis, ultrasonography
We evaluated the potential usefulness of CEUS to assess fetal-maternal circulation during pregnancy in dogs. Nine bitches were examined at 23, 30, and 45 days of gestation using an ultrasound machine (LOGIQ E9) and SonoVue® contrast media as echo-signal enhancer. Qualitative and quantitative evaluation of contrast enhancement patterns of uterine artery and utero/placental vessels were performed on recorded images. Independently of the gestational periods, the qualitative evaluation showed the initial wash-in phase from the first appearance of the uterine artery to the rapid distribution in embryonic vesicles or placenta to the progressive washout, whilst there was no enhancement of either embryos or fetuses in any bitch. Independent of gestational age, parameters derived from quantitative analysis of time intensity-curves of contrast enhancement (peak intensity, time to peak, rise time, washout) did not vary between proximal placenta, distal placenta, and uterine artery. With the progression of gestation, AUC values did not change in both proximal and distal placenta, but in the uterine artery it was lower (P ≤ 0.05) at day 30 than at day 23 (464.8 ± 16.1 vs.596.4 ± 28.1, respectively). In conclusion, CEUS appears to safely permit evaluation of the maternal and fetal vessels in the first two third of gestation, without any clinically relevant adverse effects. Further studies in a larger number of bitches in different stages of pregnancy are needed to establish standard parameters for normal pregnancies that can be used to detect abnormalities of pregnancy.