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Cedar Grove Vets

Laparoscopic spays; what are they, and are they worth it? You’ve decided to get your beloved four-legged friend spayed. You’ve read up on the reduced incidence of mammary tumours, prevention of ovarian and uterine carcinomas, and prevention of pregnancy. You’ve stocked up on diet food in preparation for her change in hormones possibly making her a bit more “cuddly”. You’ve discussed with us about how we will reduce the risks of anaesthesia. You are SET. You are ready. But hold on. You’ve just heard about “lap spays”. Now what?

Laparoscopic spays, also known as keyhole spays, or lap-spays, are a type of spay where minimally invasive techniques are used to see the internal structures of the abdomen. A small incision is made, and a laparoscope (tiny camera) is inserted; this gives vets visual access to the abdomen. Other small incisions may then be made to manoeuvre instruments for the actual procedure.

Smaller incisions; this means less healing for your bitch, faster recovery, and less time for her to interfere with a healing wound. Overall, making a smaller incision will greatly improve the healing process for Perdita.

Less invasive surgery; veterinarians perform many spays during their careers; your bitch will be in safe and well-practiced hands! However, as with any invasive procedure, there are risks. Lap-spays facilitate better visualisation of the internal organs, and internal bleeding is thought to be less likely. There is also a reduced risk of herniation (where abdominal contents slip out through the incised muscle wall).

2-4-1: Other procedures can be performed laparoscopically. One such procedure is a “gastropexy”; this is a form of securing the stomach and preventing any kind of rotation, hence preventing the condition of “Gastric Dilation and Volvulus” (GDV). GDV is most commonly seen in large, deep-chested dogs, and this prophylactic procedure can prevent a painful, expensive, and potentially fatal incident.

Bouncing back; along with faster wound-healing, this less-invasive procedure is associated with less tearing and damage of tissues, and also less pain. All-in-all, there should be a much faster recovery time; she will be bouncing off the walls again in no time! (Hoorah?)

What should I be aware of?

“Going under”: As with all anaesthesia, there are associated risks from affecting the cardiovascular system. Healthy bitches can undergo general anaesthesia without complications, but it is advisable to get a pre-anaesthetic blood tests to detect any abnormal functioning in the liver, for example, and to have a full clinical exam to assess cardiovascular health.

Fewer doggy bags?: Sounds great! In reality, being fasted and the use of some pain medications (opioids) can slow gut transit, resulting in constipation. Contact us if you have concerns about reduced bowel movement following surgery.

Nibble nibble – but not on her kibble… Dogs will often explore their surgical sites by licking and scratching. Any interference with the wound will delay wound healing; vets and nurses are skilled at appropriate bandaging techniques to make the wound doggy tongue-proof. If she is very persistent, you may need to help of the “buster collar”; or, as it is referred to in the film “Up”: “the cone of shame”. If there is bleeding or discharge from the wound, contact us immediately. Risks of delayed wound healing or wound infection are greatly reduced in lap-spays, however.

Pain: Lap-spays, as aforementioned, are less painful than traditional surgical techniques, which is comforting for you, rewarding for us, and beneficial to our patients. We will work to optimise a method of pain-control to work for your dog, ensuring your peace of mind and her happiness. Signs of pain to look out for are: o Facial expressions; a tragic facial expression or uncharacteristic anger (lip curling, for example), especially when the wound is approached, can be signs of pain. o Licking, biting and obsessing at the wound. o Restlessness, hesitancy to lie down o Panting. 

So, what’s the verdict?

Overall, lap-spays have faster and more comfortable recovery. Although it requires great skill, the improved visualisation of the abdomen can make it a “safer” procedure. To conclude, lap-spays seem to be living up to the hype!



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Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx.



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