Keyhole (Laparoscopic) Spay
South Devon Veterinary Hospital offers a full range of surgical services, operating to the highest standards. We have four dedicated operating theatres providing ophthalmic (eye), soft tissue, orthopaedic (bone) and keyhole surgery, as well as routine procedures such as neutering and dentistry. We also offer referral surgical services.
Minimally invasive surgery - what can we offer?
We are able to carry out routine neutering (spay) using keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery.
Keyhole (laparoscopic) Spaying
Keyhole (laparoscopic) spaying is a way of neutering female dogs that results in less pain and a faster recovery*.
What is keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery?
Keyhole surgery is a minimally invasive method of performing surgery. A laparoscope (a small camera) is inserted through a small incision to view internal structures that are magnified on a video monitor. Special precision instruments are used for incredibly fine/delicate handling of tissue. Keyhole surgery is now regarded as the gold standard for many operations in humans due to a faster recovery, less pain, less post-operative infections or other complications. These same benefits are available to pets when having keyhole surgery instead of traditional open surgery.
How is keyhole surgery different to “traditional” surgery?
|Keyhole Spay at South Devon Referrals
|Traditional “open” spay
|Two small incisions of 0.5-1cm
|Single midline incision 5-10cm long
|Ovaries and uterus operated on in their normal position with camera and instruments
|Ovaries and uterus stretched or broken away from body wall inside abdomen to bring up to incision
|Blood vessels cut and sealed ultrasonically
|Blood vessels tied off with suture material
|Lead exercise for 48 hours followed by return to normal exercise whilst keeping incisions clean for 10 days post-operatively
|Restricted lead-only exercise for 10-14 days
|Less pain and need for pain relief, increased activity after surgery, less bleeding, less aftercare required
Why is keyhole surgery not used more for pets?
Keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery requires a significant investment in equipment and also expertise to carry out to a high standard. For this reason, it is not possible to offer this service in most veterinary practices. South Devon Veterinary Hospital has invested in the best available equipment and highest level of training available to ensure we can offer the best and safest standards of keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery.
Can you spay small dogs by keyhole surgery?
Yes, and with the same benefits as for larger dogs. We often spay dogs weighing as little as 5kg.
How do I arrange a keyhole (laparoscopic) spay?
South Devon Veterinary Hospital is able to provide this service to our registered clients (for who we are your “usual vet”). If you are registered with another veterinary practice, you do not need to change practice to have a Keyhole (Laparoscopic) Spay for your dog. A referral can be easily arranged by your usual vet with South Devon Referrals (our referral practice, based at South Devon Veterinary Hospital). See here for more information keyhole (laparoscopic) spays on the South Devon Referrals website.
* A number of studies have reviewed differences between laparoscopic spaying (ovariectomy) and a “traditional” open spay and shown reduced signs of pain in dogs that have keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery). It is worth noting that when individual dogs have surgery giving extra pain relief may help reduce the amount of pain animals feel. Our normal recommendation is that all traditional “open” spays should receive 2-3 days of NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) pain relief after surgery to reduce their discomfort, and in the studies noted below extra pain relief that was given is of a different type (typically morphine or a similar medication). Some key points from a few papers are listed in the below:
Devitt, C.M., Cox, R.E. and Hailey, J.J. (2005) Duration, complications, stress, and pain of open ovariohysterectomy versus a simple method of laparoscopic-assisted ovariohysterectomy in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 227, 921–7.
- Nine of ten dogs in the group who had open surgery needed extra pain relief as they displayed high pain scores: none in the group who underwent laparoscopy needed extra pain relief.
- Surgical stress was higher in the group who had open surgery compared to laparoscopy as measured by two markers in blood (cortisol and glucose).
Hancock, R.B., Lanz, O.I., Waldron, D.R., Duncan, R.B., Broadstone, R. V and Hendrix, P.K. (2005) Comparison of Postoperative Pain After Ovariohysterectomy by Harmonic Scalpel-Assisted Laparoscopy Compared with Median Celiotomy and Ligation in Dogs. Veterinary Surgery 34, 273–282.
- Dogs who had open surgery had higher pain scores (a standardised method of measuring pain) for at least 72 hours (3 days) following surgery than those who had laparoscopic surgery.
- Dogs who had open surgery displayed more pain when pressure was applied to their abdomen for at least 48 hours (2 days) following surgery than those who had laparoscopic surgery.
- Surgical stress was higher in the group who had open surgery compared to laparoscopy as measured by cortisol in blood 2 hours after surgery.
Culp, W.T.N., Mayhew, P.D. and Brown, D.C. (2009) The effect of laparoscopic versus open ovariectomy on postsurgical activity in small dogs. Veterinary surgery : VS 38, 811–7.
- The activity of dogs for 48 hours (2 days) after surgery was reduced by 62% in dogs that had open surgery but only 25% by dogs that had laparoscopic surgery.