by Shannon Turner, DVM
Chances are, you have heard of laparoscopic surgery. It is widely known to be a minimally invasive, safer option than traditional surgery. Did you know that the same options for laparoscopic surgery are available for your pets?
Studies have shown that laparoscopic surgery is 65% less painful than traditional surgery, due to a small incision size, better visualization, and less tissue handling. In our pets, a traditional spay includes a two to three inch incision, blindly locating the ovaries and the uterus, and manually tearing the tough suspensory ligament that attaches the ovaries to the body wall. In a laparoscopic spay, a small half inch incision is made, the camera is placed into the abdomen allowing the veterinarian to visually locate the ovaries and uterus, and the suspensory ligament is cut with a cauterizing instrument that passes through the camera. Because the ligament is cauterized and not torn, there is no bruising or bleeding as in the traditional spay, leading to much less pain. The magnified view of the structures in the abdomen also allows the veterinarian to inspect the remainder of the abdominal organs and ensure that there is no bleeding from the surgical area.
The recovery in a laparoscopic spay is much quicker, and the dogs that undergo a laparoscopic spay are obviously much less painful and able to return to their normal activities much faster. The small incision size is great in a playful puppy because there is much less chance of the incision getting infected or opening.
The use of laparoscopic surgery in pets does not end with routine spays. In large breed, deep chested dogs, it can also be used to perform a minimally invasive gastropexy, in which the stomach is sutured to the body wall. The gastropexy is a preventive surgical method to prevent the stomach from flipping and causing a life-threatening condition in cases of bloat. Laparoscopic surgery is also a helpful tool in abdominal exploratories to obtain small biopsies of organs, such as the liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, and intestines. With a laparoscopic gastropexy and exploratory, the same benefits associated with the spay are amplified because the traditional eight to ten inch incision is replaced with one to two very small incisions allowing for quicker healing and much less pain.
The incorporation of the same laparoscopic equipment used in human medicine allows for advanced, cutting edge medical care for our pets’ traditional, preventive, and diagnostic surgical needs. Surgery does not have to include a painful, slow recovery with the use of laparoscopic techniques. If you have questions about laparoscopic surgery for your pet, feel free to reach out to Briarcliff Animal Clinic, where we have offered laparoscopic surgery since 2009.
Dr. Shannon Turner is an Associate Veterinarian at Briarcliff Animal Clinic. You can reach her by email at Shannon.Turner@briarcliffanimal.com or by calling Briarcliff Animal Clinic at 404 874 6393.