35667 - Veterinary Perinatology

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Single cycle degree programme (LMCU) in Veterinary Medicine (cod. 8617)

Learning outcomes

The purpose of the course “Veterinary Perinatology” is to provide students with the knowledge and skills to correctly manage the pregnant female and the newborn, to perform a complete physical evaluation to identify and early treat high risk pregnancy and to apply an effective diagnostic-therapeutic protocol in sick newborn.

At the end of the course:

KNOWLEDGE – the student knows etiology, pathogenesis, symptoms and treatment of the main perinatal diseases, methods and tools to carry out the monitoring of pregnancy and the care of the healthy and sick newborn;

SKILLS- the student is able to:

o collect a complete history related to mother and neonate;

o approach the mother and the newborn correctly to ensure his own and patient's safety;

o perform the procedures related to: pregnancy monitoring, care of the neonate at birth and neonatal physical evaluation;

o appreciate and collect the clinical signs and symptoms related to the main perinatal diseases;

o list differential diagnosis;

o set up a correct treatment plan;

o perform a prognostic evaluation.


o solve the problems proposed through exposure to real cases;

o communicate their comments to fellow students and tutor;

o use additional resources available at the Department (Veterinary Learning Portal, search engines on the web, etc.) to solve the problems proposed.

Course contents

Introduction to the course: definition of perinatology and neonatology and importance in different species; illustration of the program, textbooks and examination procedures.

Quick review of some basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology as a function of the main perinatal diseases: the lenght of pregnancy in domestic animals, different types of placenta in domestic animals, phisiology of placenta exchanges, anatomy and function of fetal annexes (amnios, allantoid and chorion), umbilical cord and fetal circulation, functions of the amniotic fluid.

General part

Prevention of perinatal diseases: health and welfare of the dam, environmental management, clinical evaluation and ultrasound monitoring of the dam, assistance during delivery, neonatal care, resuscitation of the sick neonate.

Passive transfer of immunity. Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of failure of passive transfer of immunity (FPT).

Standard diagnostic protocol in the sick neonate: clinical evaluation and diagnostic tests; emergency protocol in the critically-ill neonate.

Standard therapeutic protocol and principles of neonatal therapy: respiratory support, EV fluids, antibiotics, gastroprotection, enteral assisted nutrition and parenteral nutrition, supportive care and monitoring.

Special part

Diseases of the foal: Perinatal Asphyxia Syndrome (PAS); prematurity and dismaturity; neonatal isoerythrolysis; perinatal infections: placentitis, septicaemia, local infections (enteritis, pneumonia, arthritis-osteomyelitis; main diseases of the urinary tract and diseases of the umbilical remnants (onfalitis, patent urachus, uroperitoneum); gastrointestinal diseases (ileus, intussusceptions, meconium retention, gastro-duodenal ulcers, parasitism).

Diseases of puppies and kittens: perinatal asphyxia; diseases from environmental and maternal causes; congenital anomalies; neonatal septicemia and localized infections; viral infections; hemorrhagic syndrome; fading syndrome; neonatal isoerythrolysis; parasitism and trauma.

Diseases of the calf: neonatal asphyxia; respiratory distress syndrome (RDS); diseases of the umbilical remnants; neonatal pneumonia; neonatal enteritis.


The course material consists of suggested books, and the material made available to students in the web (see http://campus.cib.unibo.it or the website of the teacher: http://www.unibo.it/docenti/carolina.castagnetti ).

In particular, the texts recommended are:

- “Neonatologia Veterinaria” Veronesi M.C., Castagnetti C., Taverne M.A.M. EdiSES, 2012;

- “Small Animal Pediatrics – the first 12 months of life” Peterson M.E., Kutzler M.A., Elsevier, 2011;

- “Equine Reproduction” McKinnon A.O., Squires E.L., Vaala W.E., Varner D.D., Wiley-Blackwell, 2011;

- “Equine Neonatal Medicine – a case-based approach” Paradis M.R., Saunders, 2006;

- "The Veterinary Clinics of North America – Equine Practice: Neonatal Medicine and Surgery” di Sanchez L.C. Vol 21, 2005.

Teaching methods

The course consists of academic (frontal) lectures (15 hours) and practical (9 x 4 hours).

Academic (frontal)

The lectures provide a close interaction between the teacher and the students and are arranged so as to better represent the situation in which the veterinarian finds himself in the profession.

Practical (tutorial supervised or “hands on”)

The practical lessons are carried out by dividing the students into four groups of about 25 students, each of which will attend the same hour of practical; the groups could be further subdivided into groups of 4-6 students.

The aims of the practical lessons are:

• to be the student familiar with the procedures of the clinical evaluation of the pregnant female and newborn (hands-on activity) - acquisition of professional skills;

• to help students to develop the ability to recognize clinical signs using both clinical cases from Veterinary Teaching Hospital, that video and images in the computer lab - acquisition of working-out and synthesis skills, communication skills and teamwork.

The practical lessons will therefore be of two types:

  • practical on animals, to acquire the necessary manual skills. The student must wear dedicated clothes (green) and work boots.
  • interactive sessions on the computer, in which the teacher will propose questions and problems that students must solve using the information from the lectures.

As part of the practical lessons, the teacher will take care to propose and emphasize teamwork, focused on the development of problem-solving skills, and using the tools available at the Department (library, textbooks, search engines on the web, etc.).

Assessment methods

The aim of the final evaluation of the student is to assess the achievement of the expected learning outcomes:

o Skill to monitor normal and high risk pregnancy;

o Skill to assist the neonate at birth;

o Skill to diagnose the most important neonatal diseases;

o Skill to plan a therapeutic strategy and to formulate a prognosis.

The final evaluation of the student on the course “Veterinary Perinatology” consists of an oral examination.

The purpose of the oral examination is to evaluate the skill of the student to apply his store of knowledge and to correctly perform logical-deductive connections. Usually the oral examination is based on the presentation of a clinical case, possibly supported by the viewing of images and/or videos. The student is asked to make a list of differential diagnoses and to discuss what elements are pros and cons of the various hypotheses, and to suggest how to reach the final diagnosis and to decide the treatment plan. During the examination the student have to answer to in-depth questions related to the topic discussed.

Is very important that the student uses a correct lexicon and that he reasons transversally, connecting all the topics of the course and the knowledge from previous courses.

Only for students of the V year, there is the possibility to split the examination into 2 parts:

a written test about the general part (in January) and an oral examination about the special part. The oral examination must to be taken within the same year (December 31st).

The purpose of the written test is to evaluate if the student achieved an adequate store of knowledge about the general part of the course.

During the written test the student have to answer to 10 questions (8 multiple choice questions and 2 short essay questions).

Every multiple choice question has 4 options, and only one correct answer. The score can be 0 (zero) or 2. In short essay questions the score can be from 0 (zero) to 2. The non-response is considered incorrect (0) in both the type of question.

The time available to the student for the written test is 90 minutes. During the test is not allowed the use of support material as textbooks, notes, and computer media. The test is passed and gives access to the oral examination if the student has achieved a score of at least 12 points.

The purpose of the oral examination is to evaluate the skill of the student to apply his store of knowledge and to correctly perform logical-deductive connections. The oral examination often takes its cue from a clinical case followed by the student during the clinical rotation.

Is very important that the student uses a correct lexicon and that he reasons transversally, connecting all the topics of the course and the knowledge from previous courses.

The score can be from 0 (zero) to 10. The examination is passed if the student has achieved a score of at least 6 points. If the student obtains a lower score, he has to repeat the entire examination (written and oral).

The final grade (out of thirty) will result from the sum of the 2 scores. If the student obtains a full score in both the examinations, the final mark can be 30 cum laude.

Teaching tools

Power point presentations with pictures and videos

Office hours

See the website of Carolina Castagnetti


Good health and well-being Quality education

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.