Minimally Invasive Surgery – Laparoscopy

View of the liver and diaphragm laparoscopically

View of the right ovary during a standard laparoscopic spay.

Abdominal view of a laparoscopic gastropexy.

What is laparoscopy? This is an advanced surgical technique that utilizes cameras and instruments that are introduced into the abdomen via small incisions (portals). This type of surgical procedure is becoming more and more common in human medicine. It is not uncommon to hear about gallbladder removals, “lap band” procedures and many other operations being performed this way. It is really becoming the standard of care – so why not for our pets? Certainly the technology is there! The more and more we get comfortable with these techniques, the more we will be able to do.

The basic concept of laparoscopy is to make portals that allow the introduction of a camera and instruments. The actual surgical work is done within the abdomen by visualizing it on a video monitor. Before attempting laparoscopic surgeries, the surgeon needs to be comfortable with performing the surgery in an open approach, because there are times, when laparoscopy is not the best approach and the surgery needs to be converted.

What are the benefits of laparoscopy? The most notable benefits are patient comfort, soft tissue damage (termed morbidity), excellent visualization (images are magnified), shorter hospital stays. All these combined form a convincing argument for laparoscopic surgery.

One of the most common procedures performed is the ovariohysterectomy (spay). This can be performed from 0.5 cm and 1.0 cm incisions. This is a very quick procedure and allows the surgeon complete access and visualization of the ovaries and uterus. Specialized sealing devices allow the surgeon to remove the full uterus and ovaries with minimal bleeding and incisions. Another benefit is that with the small size of the incisions, there is low risk of herniation of abdominal contents, and the patient can return to activity in about a week.

The spay is many times combined with a prophylactic gastropexy in the larger breed dogs. This is a procedure that allows the stomach to be attached to the body wall to prevent deadly twisting of the stomach. This is a very effective procedure. For more information, please visit the previous blogs entitled GDV.

Other more complex procedures include multiple biopsies, adrenalectomy, gallbladder removal, liver mass resection, cryptorchid testicle removal, etc. As more experience is gained with laparoscopy the more we can do. If you have questions about laparoscopy feel free to comment or ask your veterinarian and veterinary surgeon.

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