As with human keyhole surgery, there are lots of benefits to laparoscopy, and the term minimally invasive surgery is a clue to them all. Because it is minimally invasive it leads to quicker recovery times and smaller wounds, but the most important advantage is that it results in safer surgery with improved outcomes.
The most common procedure minimally invasive surgery is used for is spaying, but it can also be used for biopsies, gall bladder removal, bladder stone removal and gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV or bloat) preventative surgery. In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that less than 1% of suitable veterinary procedures are performed by minimally invasive surgical techniques.
Spaying is the surgical sterilisation of a female dog. Traditionally carried out by the removal of the ovaries and the womb in an ovariohysterectomy, it is now recognised that removing just the ovaries is equally effective whilst reducing surgical time and patient trauma.
In a Laparoscopic Ovariectomy (keyhole spay) endoscopes make tiny entry wounds in the skin and the abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide. An electro-scalpel is then guided into the space with a camera. A strong fibre-optic light source and magnification give an excellent view of the abdominal cavity, enabling the surgeon to grasp the ovary and remove a section at a time using a small blade. An electric current is used to seal any blood vessels before sectioning off the uterus and ovarian stem, cauterising the area and procuring minimal bleeding.
Laparoscopic Ovariectomy (keyhole spay)
Around one-hour surgery time
Full recovery after four weeks
Long internal/external wound
Stitches removed after 10-14 days
Collar required while wounds heals
Around 30 minutes surgery time
Full recovery after one week
One tiny puncture wounds
No lampshade collar required
There is no difference in the effect of both types of spaying. Both techniques stop the bitch from coming into season, as well as eliminating the risk of unwanted pregnancies, mammary cancer (if performed when young enough), Pyometra (infection of the womb) and vaginal hypertrophy and prolapse.
Your pet will be successfully neutered whichever procedure you opt for, but will endure less trauma and recover faster if keyhole surgery is used. As spaying often takes place in young bitches, keeping them quiet and restricting exercise for four weeks is often as stressful for the owner as it is for the dog, so a full recovery in two to seven days is a welcomed bonus. As are the tiny puncture wounds, even the much maligned ‘Elizabethan’ collar, or cone of shame as it is frequently called, isn’t enough to prevent some dogs from licking or biting at stitches following routine abdominal surgery. Most owners report that their bitches are not even aware of the laparoscopic puncture wounds and make no attempt to lick them.
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