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J Reprod Fertil Suppl. 1991;44:591-601.

The placenta as a determinant of fetal well-being in normal and abnormal equine pregnancies.

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  • 1University of Kentucky, Lexington 40536-0084.


One hundred twenty-four horse placentas were evaluated according to gross appearance, weight and surface area. Grossly abnormal placentas were photographed, and histological sections were taken from abnormal appearing areas, and from representative areas (pregnant horn, non-pregnant horn, body and cervical pole) in both normal and abnormal placentas. Information about the resulting foals was obtained and correlations examined. Histological sections were reviewed and related to the resulting foals. Four normal fresh placentas were infused with dyes to ascertain the blood supply to various areas. Foal weight was statistically related to both allantochorionic surface area and allantochorionic weight. When normal placental surface area was divided by foal weight and related to gestational age, a statistical (P less than 0.0001 and r = 0.829) relationship emerged. Long cords were seen frequently with fetal demise. Histological abnormalities in the placenta were highly associated with fetal demise or fetal abnormalities, with only 2 normal Thoroughbred foals resulted from the 23 placentas exhibiting abnormal histology. Among the ponies, the same relationship held, with 3 normal ponies delivered from 9 abnormal placentas. Normal placentas were associated with normal offspring in most cases. Perfusion studies indicated that, in the four placentas studied, one umbilical artery supplied the cervical area and the non-pregnant horn, whereas the other supplied the pregnant horn. The body had a mixed supply from both arteries. This study evaluated the feto-placental unit in terms of normal and abnormal measurements and histology related to foal outcome. The presence of abnormal histological appearance of the placenta appeared to be more closely associated with foal abnormality than the percentage of placental area involved in the abnormal process. More information is needed before placental blood supply can be related to abnormal processes.

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