Acute abdomen (AA) is the term used to define a pathological condition that affects the abdominal cavity and frequently manifests itself with acute clinical symptoms capable of compromising a cow’s life. Therefore, it should be considered as an emergency that should be evaluated as quickly as possible to adopt the appropriate therapeutic measure (medical or surgical).
|Common Clinical Signs|
|Abomasal volvulus||dehydration, tachycardia, tachypnea, bruxism, skin is cool, rarely colic, pulse is weak and thready, faeces are absent or watery but scant, abdominal distension, greater on the right side, large area of tympanic resonance on the right extending from the eighth rib to the middle of the paralumbar fossa.|
|Abomasal displacement||reduced appetite and milk production, ketosis, faeces are often normal to softer than normal but reduced in volume, ruminal contractions decreased to absent, the last one or two ribs on the left are sprung but the abdomen is sunken in the paralumbar fossa, large area of tympanic resonance (ping) in left cranial abdomen.|
|Hemorrhagic jejunitis||variable dehydration, tachycardia, tachypnea, cool extremities, ± fever and hypothermia in advanced cases, early-stage colic, auscultation of fluids sounds on right, hemorrhagic diarrhoea.|
|Intussusception||dehydration, tachycardia, tachypnea, ±pale mucous membranes cool extremities, ±severe colic, right sided ventral abdominal distension and generalized in advanced cases, auscultation of multiple areas of tympanic resonance over right abdomen, bloody and scanty faeces on rectal examination.|
|Mesenteric torsion||colic severe, tachycardia, tachypnea, rapid debilitation and progression to moribund state, inability to stand up, examination rectal: multiple loops of distended small and large intestine, no faeces.|
|Paralytic ileus||tachycardia, tachypnea, variable hydration status, variable colic: may be severe, moderate abdominal distension in lower right abdomen, small areas of tympanic resonance, auscultation reveal fluids sounds in right sided abdominal.|
|Non Gastrointestinal Visceras Disease||Common Clinical Signs|
|Uroliths||lethargy, reduced appetite or anorexia, straining to urine, mild colic, hematuria, and it can evolution to ruptures urethra or bladder.|
|Pyelonephritis||anorexia, fever, dehydration, colic, frequent urination, straining to defecate, dysuria, hematuria, ±stranguria, exudate adherent to vulvar hairs, rectal palpation: enlarged left kidney.|
|Uterine torsion||tachycardia, tachypnea, signs of impeding parturition without progress, mild colic, vaginal examination: circumferential constiction of vaginal wall, rectal examination: torsion of the uterine ligament is palpated.|
|Cholestasis||weight loss, anorexia, diarrhoea, ascites, icterus, pain over liver elicited with pressure.|
Age, breed, nutrition, and lactation stage are relevant parameters to take into consideration when evaluating a cow with AA. Thus, the type of aptitude of the cow is important: dairy cows, strictly speaking, are more predisposed to suffer from displacement or abomasal volvulus than lactating cows destined for meat production . In relation to physiological stage, uterine torsions are normally observed at the time of parturition or during the dry period . In addition, recent estrus could be associated with hypocalcemia, which results in paralytic ileus .
Nutritional management also predisposes to AA signs. For example, if a dairy cow is fed with highly non fermented energy-rich carbohydrates after the early lactation stage, a subacute ruminal acidosis with signs of abdominal pain can be developed .
It is during the periparturient period, particularly during the first two months of calving, that cows have been reported to be most vulnerable to the development of caecal dilatation. This is due to the fact that high milk yield demands the consumption of more concentrates, which leads to an increased production of volatile fatty acids (VFA’s) . The high level of VFAs produces the accumulation of gases. This, in turn, produces atony which leads to cecal dilatation and subsequent dislocation . Winter season has been found to be an important predisposing factor the occurrence of caecal dilatation .
As regards infections, one of the most problematic ones is jejunal hemorrhage syndrome (JHS) which is an acute, highly fatal enterotoxemic disorder in dairy cattle. Multiple descriptive names have been proposed for this condition, including hemorrhagic bowel syndrome, acute hemorrhagic enteritis of the small intestine, bloody gut, or JHS. The cause is uncertain and the pathogenesis poorly understood. Nevertheless, Clostridium perfringens type A has been strongly suggested as a primary etiologic agent . Other authors, however, have reported an association between JHS and infection with Aspergillus fumigatus . This infection has been frequently reported during the last few decades in all regions in the United States and some European countries , especially in the autumn and winter months . In addition, approximately 60% of the cases occur within the first 100 days of lactation and another 20% of the cases occur during midlactation. More than 90% of reported cases occur during the second lactation and in older cows . The high incidence take place early during lactation, when a cow’s milk production and feed intake are both relatively high. Therefore, it could be associated with nutritional factors. In fact, feeding a high-energy diet has been found to increase the risk of developing JHS .