Background: In humans, analysis of amniotic fluid is widely used for diagnostic and prognostic purposes. Amniocentesis has scarcely been used in veterinary medicine to date, despite a tremendous potential for clinical and research applications in dogs. Our study aimed to establish a safe method for foetal fluid sampling in female dogs.
Methods: Two transabdominal ultrasound-guided methods were assessed: the "free hand" and the needle-guided bracket sampling. In addition, through a subsequent routinely scheduled ovariohysterectomy, fluid was directly collected. Samples from 98 conceptuses were collected at day 46.7 +/- 7.5 of pregnancy.
Results: The amount of fluid retrieved varied between 0.5 and 5.0 ml per collection. Macroscopic examination of the uterus and conceptuses identified 53% of the puncture sites. Neither fluid leakage nor foetal injury was detected, and six hematomas (5.8%) were visible. Ultrasound-guided foetal fluid collection was found to be potentially safe, and it can be performed by using either transabdominal method.
Conclusion: Foetal fluid collection is possible with relative ease and low short-term risk, and may open paths for diagnostic, therapeutic and research purposes in dogs. The procedure can provide new insights into prenatal clinical medicine, including diagnostics of foetal deaths, early identification of heritable diseases and so on.