Bovine Caesarian

The following photographs show how a caesarian section is performed on a cow - some of the images are quite graphic

Please note that not every detail of the operation is shown - these images are only to give an indication of some of the procedures.

Caesarian sections (caesars) are performed in domestic animals for the same reasons as they are in humans - if the foetus is large in relatation to the mother's pelvis, if the foetus is lying in an abnormal presentation, if the foetus is distressed etc.

The flank of the cow is clipped and prepared for surgery.

A paravertebral nerve block is performed using local anesthetic while the animal is suitably restrained.  This blocks the nerves which supply the flank.  Local line blocks can also be performed where a line of local anesthetic is injected into the skin and underlying tissues.
The operation site is thoroughly scrubbed several times, and finally sprayed with surgical spirit.  Often an assistant or the farmer will assist at this point, while...
...the vet prepares sterile operating instruments, sutures and other disposable items after thoroughly scrubbing himself.
Once the anaesthetic has taken effect the initial skin incision is made...
...the incision is continued through the different muscle layers and eventually into the abdominal cavity itself.
One of the calf's feet is located - this is usually a hind foot, as the front feet and head of the calf will be near the pelvis of the cow.  An incision is made into the uterus (womb) to expose the calf's foot...
...which is then further exteriorised, before the other foot is located.
If the calf is large - as in the case shown, an assistant will also have thoroughly cleansed his hands and will assist by lifting the calf, while taking great care not to touch the vet, the wound or the operating site.  At this stage the incision in the uterus may be enlarged.
The calf is gently drawn through the incision - in this case it is coming backwards as is more common.
The incision in the uterus is then very carefully closed ensuring a complete seal.
Sterile fluids are then infused into the abdomen - these help replace some of the fluid lost during the operation (they are quickly absorbed) while also significantly reducing the chance of post operative adhesions forming.
The lining of the abdomen (the peritoneum) and the individual muscle layers are then carefully sutured...
and finally the skin incision is closed.
There are a variety of materials and suture patterns that can be used - the one shown here is a continuous suture.
Very importantly, and often while the vet is completing the suturing, the farmer will give the calf colostrum by stomach tube.  Colostrum is the first milk produced by a mother, and is full of antibodies and other nutrients that are essential to give the calf the best possible start in life.  Later on, the farmer will ensure that the calf is also suckling from its mother naturally.