Veterinary Record 174:221 doi:10.1136/vr.101736
  • Research
  • Paper

Outcome of surgical treatment for umbilical swellings in bovine youngstock

  1. A. N. Holman, BVM&S, DBR, MRCVS1
  1. 1Leahurst Farm Animal Practice, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Chester High Road, Neston, Cheshire CH64 7TE, UK
  2. 2Division of Livestock Health and Welfare, University of Liverpool, Leahurst Campus, Chester High Road, Neston, Cheshire CH64 7TE, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: helen.williams{at}


Umbilical swellings are commonly identified in calves and can be caused by hernia formation, infection of the remnants of umbilical vessels or a combination of both. Ninety-one cases with umbilical swellings were admitted to the Leahurst Farm Animal Practice (LFAP) between July 2004 and February 2012; 55 were simple hernias and 36 had associated infection. Eighty-seven cases underwent surgery of which 86 survived until discharge. Postoperative complications occurred in 65/86 animals (73 per cent). In 51 cases (81 per cent) this was classified as minor requiring no additional treatment. Placement of a prosthetic mesh was associated with a higher OR for developing severe postoperative complication when compared with those not receiving a mesh (OR=19.3; 95% CI 4.5 to 83.5). Long-term survival results were available for 49 animals, 22 of which were remaining in the herd with a median age of 1346 days (3.7 years). Of the 27 animals which had exited the herd, 16 were adult dairy cows, 7 were dairy heifers, 2 were beef animals and 2 exited at an unknown stage. Umbilical surgery in calves carries a good prognosis, although placement of a mesh increases the risk of complications occurring in the postoperative period.

  • Accepted December 30, 2013.
  • Published Online First 24 January 2014

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