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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2004

Accuracy of evaluation of ovarian structures by transrectal ultrasonography in ewes

Forsberg, Mats; C. Viñoles; A. Meikle


The objective of this study was to assess the accuracy of estimating the size and number of corpora lutea (CL) and ovarian follicles by ultrasonography (US) of the ewe in standing position. US observations were compared with those made at subsequent postmortem examination of the ovaries. Corriedale ewes (n = 50) of unknown reproductive history and at random stages of the oestrus cycle were used for the study. Transrectal US was performed using a 7.5MHz transducer with the ewe in standing position. The ewes were slaughtered 12 h after the US examination and the ovaries collected, dissected and the number and size of the CL and follicles evaluated. CL were classified as functional or non-functional on the basis of their colour and follicles were classified by size (2, 3, 4 and ≥5 mm). Accuracy of US was assessed by calculating its positive predictive value and sensitivity. The data were evaluated by Pearson correlation and linear regression analysis. The predictive value and sensitivity of US was 100% for the presence and 96% for the absence of CL. In four out of five ewes with double ovulations, the presence of both CL was correctly diagnosed by US. For functional CL, the sensitivity of US was 100%. The regression coefficient for CL diameter was significant (P ≤ 0.001; r2 = 0.4; n = 35). The size of 85 of 117 follicles was accurately determined. The correlation between numbers of follicles counted byUSand postmortem increased with size of follicle from r = 0.44 (P ≤ 0.01) for 2mm to r = 0.85 (P ≤ 0.001) for ≥5mm diameter follicles. The regression between the diameter of follicles determined by the two methods was significant (P ≤ 0.001; r2 = 0.8; n = 117). The predictive value of US for the number of follicles was high (98–100%) for all follicle sizes except for 3mm diameter follicles (predictive value 71%). Similarly, the sensitivity was high for all sizes of follicles (90–95%) except for those of 2mm diameter (62%). It was concluded that ultrasound scanning provides a highly accurate method for determining the number of CL and follicles ≥4mm diameter but that its predictive value and sensitivity are lower for smaller diameter follicles. The regression equation for diameter measured by US on that evaluated postmortem explained more of the variation for follicles than for CL


Accuracy; Ultrasonography; Ovarian follicles; Ovulation rate; Sheep-ovary

Published in

Animal Reproduction Science
2004, Volume: 80, pages: 69-79