Keywords:fetotomy, dystocia, calving(s), obstetrics
Dystocias can take on many forms and knowledge of when to perform a fetotomy vs a C-section can be a major headache saver. While there are places around the country where C-sections have been abandoned exclusively for performing a fetotomy and vice versa, my practice area has always been open to both procedures. This passage from the 1972 book Fetotomy in Large Animals by C J Bierschwal and CHW deBois sums it nicely:
Fetotomy should not be considered a substitute for Cesarean section. Both have a place in veterinary practice, the choice of method in individual cases being governed by the circumstances. After the finding of a dead fetus in the case of dystocia, the uppermost question should be “Which is the better solution with regard to the life of the dam?” The answer may not be the easier procedure or the one involving the least amount of effort.
The advent of sexed semen and beef on dairy technologies have seemed to greatly reduce the volume of dystocias due to large calves. That generally leaves malpositioned calves, emphysematous calves and the occasional fetal monster. Discussion of all presentations of dystocia are beyond the scope of this paper. The techniques presented here are a foundation that the veterinary obstetrician should be familiar with in order to apply to fetal presentations not discussed here.