The spherical equine embryonic vesicle is mobile throughout the uterine lumen for several days before becoming fixed in the caudal segment of a uterine horn on Day 16 (ovulation = Day 0). Orientation refers to the position of the embryo proper at the periphery of the vesicle relative to the position of the mesometrial attachment. In mares, the embryonic pole of the vesicle is antimesometrial after completion of orientation. Day of vesicle fixation, differential thickening of the endometrium near the mesometrial attachment, and orientation of the embryonic vesicle were studied in 30 ponies, using B-mode and color-Doppler transrectal ultrasonography. The thickness of the endometrium at the mesometrial aspect of the vesicle divided by the thickness at the antimesometrial aspect was termed the encroachment ratio. At the future site of fixation, the first increase (P < 0.05) in the encroachment ratio occurred between 4 and 1 days before fixation. An early vascular indicator of the future position of the embryo proper was discovered by color-Doppler imaging and consisted of a colored spot in the image of the endometrium close to the wall of the embryonic pole. The early indicator was detected in each mare 0.5 ± 0.1 days after fixation and 2.5 ± 0.2 days before first detection of the embryo proper. The position of the early indicator when first detected at the periphery of the embryonic vesicle was not significantly different from the position of the embryo proper when first detected. Results supported the hypothesis that differential thickening of the endometrium precedes orientation and indicated that orientation occurs immediately after fixation.
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