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Glossary Term: Pyometra

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Joel Mills Wikimedia
Definition: Pyometra is an accumulation of pus in the uterine cavity. Pyo- means pus and -metra refers to uterus.1

Pyometra is a result of hormonal changes; increased levels of progesterone without a pregnancy, that cause secretory fluids to build up in the uterus and become infected with bacteria most likely from the vaginal or urinary tracts, or from fecal contamination. Pyometras can be open (cervix open) or closed (cervix closed).

Pyometra can be seen in both dogs and cats, but more common in dogs. Pyometra is seen 4 to 8 weeks after estrus, sometimes longer.

Typical signs seen with pyometra:

  • Lethargy
  • Inappetence(anorexia)
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Vulvar discharge - may or may not be seen
  • Enlarged abdomen - in some cases
  • High white count (blood test)
  • Fever

Treatment for pyometra:
Due to the toxic nature of this condition (infection in uterus, with potential spread through the bloodstream), the preferred treatment for this condition is to spay - remove the uterus and ovaries. Most patients with this condition are weak and need of fluids and antibiotics; often for several days.

For breeding animals, administration of prostaglandins and antibiotics in an open pyometra may be successful, but does not prevent this condition from happening again. This treatment cannot be used in a closed pyometra, as it could cause the uterus to rupture in the abdomen, likely resulting in death.

Prevention of pyometra:
Spaying female dogs and cats before the first heat is 100% effective in prevention of pyometra.

References:
Word Origin1Online Medical Dictionary

Veterinary Glossary Index

Pronunciation: Pi - oh - me - trah
Also Known As: Pyo
Examples:
Sally didn't want to have her dog spayed, but with the diagnosis of a closed pyometra, it was the only option to save her dog's life.

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