Minimally Invasive Spay and Gastropexy!
More and more we hear about less invasive procedures for man, which begs the question: What can we do for our best friend? As human medicine and surgery becomes more advanced, so does surgery for our pets. Laparoscopy, which is the introduction of cameras and instruments via very small incisions into the abdomen, is one of those advances and can be used for everyday procedure such as a spay.
Spaying (ovariectomy or ovariohysterectomy) your pet is an important part of your female dog’s (and cat’s) preventative health care plan. Its benefits include: decreased risk of mammary cancer and uterine/ovarian cancers, infection of the uterus (which can be life threatening), etc. Spaying is recommended in any pet not being used in a breeding program.
We typically think of a spay as a procedure that includes a larger incision on your dogs abdomen where the abdomen is opened and closed. Not anymore! We now have the ability to perform it as a laparoscopic procedure. This involves two small incisions: one that is 0.5 cm in length and the second that is 1 cm in length. All the work is performed through these two small incisions! Post-operative pain is greatly reduced and recovery time is very short, as your pet would go home the same day. An additional benefit is that there is not a larger incision to be concerned with and have to monitor.
Another laparoscopic procedure that is becoming more commonplace is the laparoscopic-assisted gastropexy. All one has to do is watch movies or have some experience with large breed dogs to have heard about gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), which is the name given when a dogs stomach becomes bloated and twists on itself. This situation is a very serious condition and can be very life-threatening. It must be diagnosed and treated very quickly (hours). This condition is more common to occur in larger, deep-chested dog breeds (i.e Great Danes, Mastiffs, etc), but has been seen in many dog breeds. Unfortunately, we do not know what causes this condition; however one way to prevent it is by performing a gastropexy, which is a procedure that “tacks” the stomach to the body wall.
A prophylactic gastropexy used to require a large abdominal incision, but not anymore. With the assistance of laparoscopy, we have been able to greatly reduce the size of the incision, decrease post-operative pain, and decrease the pet’s recovery time both in the hospital and at home. For this procedure there is a small (0.5 cm) incision made into the abdomen for the camera and a 2-3 inch incision just behind the last rib on the dog’s right side for the gastropexy – and that is it! This procedure has been shown to greatly reduce the chance of having a GDV in the future. Also, if your dog is not only a predisposed breed and a female, both a spay and gastropexy can be combined into one procedure.
There are certainly other procedures that can be performed with these minimally invasive techniques. Veterinary medicine continues to advance and the use of laparoscopy is endless. We can use it for removing retained testicles, certain abdominal masses, gall bladder removal, etc. Also a growing field is the use of cameras and minimally invasive procedures within the chest (thoracoscopy). All these procedures are aimed at providing cutting edge techniques for your pet in order to improve your pet’s health, strengthening the bond between you and your best friend.