Here we describe the development and optimization of endoscopy-mediated transvaginal access for collecting ova and embryos from the bovine oviduct. The novel technique was developed in three experimental setups: In Experiment 1 embryos were collected unilaterally from nonstimulated heifers. We flushed the oviducts of superovulated heifers unilaterally (Experiment 2) and bilaterally (Experiment 3). In Experiment 1 the oviducts of 18 heifers were successfully cannulated, which resulted in the collection of twelve 1-cell to 8-cell embryos and one empty zona. Unilateral flushing of 13 animals (Experiment 2) resulted in 84 ova with 6.3 +/- 3.2 observed ovulation sites. Bilateral flushing of 25 animals (Experiment 3) resulted in 293 ova plus 10 empty zonae from 11.8 +/- 5.4 ovulation sites. Given our experience from these studies we optimized the technical equipment by improving the flushing metal catheter (Experiment 4). The novel catheter hermetically sealed the lumen of the ampulla at the moment, the medium was flushed through the oviduct. This resulted in a visible flow of medium via oviducts toward the embryo filter connected to an embryo flushing catheter that was fixed in the uterine horns. Our endoscopy-guided method is minimally invasive and facilitates the flushing of tubal stage embryos.
Animals Cattle/embryology* Embryonic and Fetal Development/physiology* Endoscopy/methods Endoscopy/veterinary* Fallopian Tubes* Female Male Ovulation Tissue and Organ Harvesting/veterinary Vagina