Food Animal Male Urogenital Surgery

Preputial wounds

Preputial wounds are relatively common in breeding bulls. Due to their location, these wounds do have more associated complications, particularly swelling, infection and adhesions.

Most preputial wounds should be treated by second intention healing or delayed primary closure due to contamination. The exception is preputial avulsions. These wounds are 360º avulsions of the prepuce from the free portion of the penis at the preputial ring. Generally these are seen in bulls being collected for AI. These wounds heal poorly if left unsutured; however, since the bull was generally cleaned prior to collection, the area is only minimally contaminated and the wounds can be closed primarily.

With second intention or delayed closure, the wound must be managed to minimize swelling, contamination and adhesions.


It is very difficult to clean the sheath to minimize contamination. Wound identification may also be delayed, letting bacteria adhere and form a protective glycocalyx. Assume the wound needs sharp debridement. Soaking in an antiseptic solution may also help remove surface bacteria.


Trauma leads to swelling and this is particularly significant in ventral tissues. If the prepuce can be returned to the sheath, the swelling is minimized. A purse string may be necessary to retain the tissues in the sheath.

However, if the prepuce is not reducible,  the area needs to be elevated as much as possible. The prepuce can be slung or held next to the ventral abdomen with old sheets or with sticky tape applied over a soft wrap.

Swelling and bandaging can lead to urethral obstruction; a penrose drain or silicon tube can be used to wick urine out of the sheath.


A lanolin based ointment can be coated on the damaged tissue to minimize adhesions within the sheath that would prevent intromission or semen collection. As healing progresses, sight stimulation of a cow in heat will also encourage movement of the prepuce.


Medical and Surgical Management of Conditions of the Penis and Prepuce, 2024 VCNA



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Large Animal Surgery - Supplemental Notes Copyright © by Erin Malone, DVM, PhD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.