Keyhole surgery or laparoscopy refers to surgery performed through small incisions and the use of a camera system called a laparoscope to be able to visualise inside the body and perform surgery. The most common procedure performed using keyhole surgery is a bitch spay – the neutering of a female dog. A standard bitch spay involves making an incision large enough to allow the surgeon access to reach the ovaries and uterus with their hands which can therefore be of a reasonable size in some dogs. The benefits of keyhole surgery are that much smaller incisions are made, therefore recovery time is much shorter and the patient tends to be more comfortable immediately post surgery. The majority of bitches with keyhole surgery will just have their ovaries removed which also makes the surgery less painful and quicker. By removing the ovaries the risk of a womb infection is removed, as for this to develop the uterus has to be influenced by hormones produced by the ovaries.
Not every animal can undergo laparoscopy - we are currently performing keyhole spays on bitches weighing over 10kg. Patients with umbilical hernias, with cardiac or respiratory disease or that have had previous abdominal surgery are also not able to undergo laparoscopy. As with human surgery, consent is obtained that should we need to convert to standard ‘open’ surgery we can proceed in the patient’s best interest. Keyhole surgery can also be used to perform exploratory surgery, removal of retained abdominal testicles, liver biopsies, and some forms of bladder surgery.
For further information regarding laparoscopic surgery please call the surgery to discuss. Laparoscopic spays are not currently available on every theatre day and so booking in advance is recommended.