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Mummification of Fetus

It is shriveling or shrinkage of fetus by absorbing all fluid of fetus and uterus. It causes the death of fetus, autolytic changes in fetus, absorption of placental and fetal fluids, involution of maternal caruncles and fetus assumes the shape of mummy.

There are two conditions either corpus luteum is maintained or other viable fetus is found along with mummified fetus. Concept of viable fetus is not in cattle and buffalo but in swine, sheep, goat, dogs and cats it happens. Either corpus luteum or viable fetus has to be present for mummified fetus. There are two types of mummification:

Hematic Mummification:
This type is present only in cattle. When maternal caruncles involute, there will be bleeding and blood accumulates in between membranes. Chocolate color or reddish brown color will be given to fetus or fetal membrane. Sometimes chocolate type material is present.

Papyraceous Mummification:
It occurs in all species and also in cattle. There is no bleeding. Fetus and fetus membrane are normal.

The incidence of mummification is low in cattle i.e. 0.13-0.18 %. This mummification can occur in 3-8 month of gestation (mostly in 4th, 5th or 6th month). If not diagnosed, mummy will stay for long time.

Causes of Mummification:
Since diagnosis of this condition is made very late; so autolytic changes in fetus make it difficult to know the cause. Some causes are:

  • Genetic or chromosomal abnormalities

  • Inherited endocrine defect

  • Tortion of umbilical cord. After 5 months fetus assumes its final position and posture which is maintained upto delivery. Before this, it keeps on moving. These movements lead to toriton of umbilical cord. Placental injury may lead to hypoxia; hence the fetus makes more movements, so cord is compressed.

  • In case of progesterone deficiency, give calculated dose of progesterone. If high dose is given, delivery will not occur after a month and gestation period prolongs. In this way fetus may get mummified.

  • All those organisms which may cause inflammation of endometruim, my cause mummification.

  • Due to impartial regression of corpus luteum fetus mummified and not expelled.

Signs of Mummification:

  • Uterine wall is strongly contracted around the fetus

  • The cervical seal is intact

  • There are no cotyledons palpatable

  • No fremitis

  • No fluid

  • The uterus may be palpatable in pelvic limb or easily palpatable

  • Animal will not return to estrus due to retained corpus luteum


  • Typical animal is brought with these histories:

     о  Animal is pregnant but not increasing in size

     о  Animal is not coming in heat

     о  Animal was pregnant but there is no parturition

  • Give single dose of PGF2α for 4 days 25 mg or Diethyl stylbesterol 100-150 mg  or Estradiol 17 β 4-8 mg. 20% cases do not respond to first dose so you have to repeat treatment.

  • Put lot of lubricant; it will help in expulsion of mummy as uterus has no fluid in case of mummification.

  • Sometimes we have to apply a degree of traction. Once fetus is expelled out, fetus comes out normally.

  • Corticosteroids not used in this case because fetus is dead and corticosteroids act on placenta.

  • Simple oil with luke warm water can be used.


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