Laparoscopic or ‘keyhole’ spaying of bitches is now firmly established at our Alton surgery and its introduction has been a great success – engaging vets, nurses and clients alike with this new minimally invasive technique. Currently 1 in 5 spays are done by this method and the approach is becoming more popular. The advantages over the conventional ‘open’ technique are smaller wounds, less discomfort and significantly faster recovery post-surgery. The procedure involves operating using instruments introduced through two small holes whilst an additional hole allows a camera to be introduced to display images taken inside the abdomen. These are projected onto a screen in front of the surgeons.
The laparoscopic spay procedure differs from the conventional surgical technique in that only the ovaries are removed (ovariectomy) in the former whilst in a traditional ovariohystectomy the uterus (womb) is removed as well. The newer approach is widely used in other countries and becoming more frequent in the UK. Removing the ovaries only offers the same advantages as the ovaries are the source of female hormone and their removal takes away the ability to display signs of heat and ovulate, and problems with the remaining ‘redundant’ uterus appear almost unheard of. The most common complaint affecting the uterus in later life is infection (pyometra) but this problem only occurs to a uterus under the influence of female hormone, so the ovary removal negates this risk.
A laparoscopic spay takes place under general anaesthetic with a team of 2 vets and 2 nurses with all the usual anaesthetic monitoring in place; the abdomen is inflated with inert gas (CO2) to allow room for manoeuvre and the patient is given intravenous fluids to support the circulation. Due to the size of the instruments relative to the 'space available', this procedure is not be suitable for very small dogs (animals weighing approximately less than 5kg).
In some instances (reported at approx. 3% of cases), it may not be possible to operate through the small incisions and if this is discovered at the time of surgery, then the surgery is merely 'converted' into a traditional technique.
In view of the investment a laparoscopic spay will cost £150 more than the conventional ovariohystectomy. The equipment used will enable us to carry out other abdominal surgeries and investigations in a less invasive manner.
Clients whose pets are members of our Pet HealthCare Plan will be entitled to a 10% discount on these prices.