Displaced Abomasum

Displaced abomasumThe abomasum (or true stomach) which normally lies on the floor of the abdomen, is said to be displaced when it fills with gas and rises to the top of the abdomen. It is more likely to be displaced to the left (LDA) than the right (RDA).

What causes displaced abomasum?

Two main causes of the condition have been identified:

  • calving: the majority of cases occur soon after calving. During pregnancy the uterus displaces the abomasum so that after calving the absomasum has to move back to its normal position, increasing the risk of displacement.
  • atony (lack of normal muscle tone) of the abomasum: if the abomasum stops contracting and turning over its contents, accumulations of gas will occur and the absomasum will tend to move up the abdomen.

What are the clinical signs?

  • inappetance, milk yield drop and reduced rumination are the most common signs.
  • there can be diarrhoea, mild colic and a distended abdomen.
  • if torsion (twisting) occurs - a problem more common in Right Displaced Abomasum - shock, low temperature and a high heart rate will occur.
  • Normally - just like ketosis - ketones will be present in blood, milk, breath and urine.

Prevention & control of the condition

Of the two causes above, only atony of the abdomen is preventable:

  • ensure cattle are not too fat at calving
  • feed high quality feeds, with good quality forage
  • feed a total mixed ration as opposed to concentrates
  • ensure plenty of space at feeding sites
  • minimise changes between late dry and early lactation ration
  • prevent and promptly treat diseases such as milk fever, metritis, toxic mastitis and retained fetal membranes which reduce feed intake
  • maximise cow comfort, minimise stress

Treatment for the condition can be conservative or surgical.

Conservative treatment involves casting the cow, rolling and manipulating the abomasum to return it to its normal position; this is particularly effective in early diagnosis. The animal should be examined 48 hours later to ensure that a relapse has not occured. This treatment can be used in conjunction with toggling, where a toggle is passed through the skin into the abdomen and twisted, fixing the abomasum in the correct place; this significantly reduces the relapse rate.

Many surgical techniques exist, all of which produce similar results.

Source: NADIS http://www.nadis.org.uk/