Surgical Services

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

  • Keyhole (Laparoscopic) Surgery (inc Spay)
  • Orthopaedic surgery
  • Soft tissue and general surgery
  • Ophthalmic (Eye) Surgery
  • Neutering
  • Anaesthetics, Sedation and Pain Relief

Keyhole (Laparoscopic) Surgery (inc Spay)

Keyhole (Laparoscopic) Surgery (inc 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 many procedures using keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery, including procedures both in the abdomen and the chest.

Keyhole (laparoscopic) Spaying

Keyhole (laparoscopic) spaying is a way of neutering female dogs that results in less pain and a faster recovery*.

Client Testimonials

“I recently brought Sassy in for a keyhole spay and I just wanted to say how pleased I was with the whole process.  I was apprehensive leaving my dog with a vets I had never used before however I found every member of staff friendly and welcoming to the owners and pets and Sassy actually seemed more relaxed than she is at my normal practice! She was completely back to normal the next day and you wouldn’t know she had anything done.

Thank you so much for providing such a professional service and looking after Sassy so well”

Client email following keyhole spay.

“I would just like to pass on my thanks for the laparoscopic surgery performed on my male German shepherd yesterday. I chose to use this procedure again following the successful surgery on my female shepherd.

I am amazed at the recovery time, both dogs were back to normal the following day and showed no signs of discomfort. In my opinion the keyhole surgery outclasses normal surgery in every aspect. I will recommend laparoscopic surgery to all my friends particularly at [South Devon Referrals] where the welfare of the pet and skill of the surgeons appears second to none.”

Client email following laparoscopic removal of retained testicle.

 

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?

Ultrasonic sealing of blood vessels during laparoscopic spay

“Traditional” surgery requires a much longer incision so the surgeon is able to directly see and safely handle internal structures.

Carrying out “traditional” open surgery through a small incision risks the surgeon not properly seeing internal structures and causing damage while trying to pull internal structures up through a small incision: this is not the same as laparoscopic keyhole 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
Usually no “lampshade” collar, minimal exercise restriction, owners often report “back to normal” the next day “Lampshade” collar after surgery, restricted 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 2kg.

Do you have a large or giant breed dog?

Large and Giant breed dogs are at high risk of GDV (Gastric Dilation and Volvulus) – also know as “bloat” or “twisted stomach”. At the same time as carrying out keyhole (laparoscopic) spay we are also able to fix the stomach to the body wall (known as a prophylactic gastropexy) in a minimally invasive way so that it is much less likely to ever be able to twist. We can discuss this in detail with you when your dog is brought in for surgery: we can also perform this surgery in male dogs.

How much does a keyhole (laparoscopic) spay cost?

Our standard prices are:

  • £440 for bitches weighing up to 25kg
  • £550 for bitches weighing over 25kg

Our prices are for young, healthy dogs. Older bitches may incur additional costs.

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.

Orthopaedic surgery

Orthopaedic surgery

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

Orthopaedic Surgical Services

South Devon Veterinary Hospital is able to offer a wide range of orthopaedic (bone) surgery. This includes repairs of fractures, management of growth abnormalities, management of lameness and spinal disease, treatment of cruciate disease and other joint problems. Offering the best possible orthopaedic service is facilitated not only by having excellent surgical facilities, but also by direct access to onsite advanced diagnostics (especially our CT scanner). CT scanning provides a three dimensional x-ray view and is now an essential part of high quality orthopaedics for pets. It allows much more accurate diagnosis and management of many orthopaedic conditions (for example: assessing many elbow problems without exploratory surgery; assessing spinal disease; identifying fractures that are missed on x-ray). 

Surgery for cranial cruciate disease

Rupture, or partial rupture, of the cranial cruciate ligament is a common cause of stifle (knee) lameness in dogs (and also cats). There are many treatments available for this condition, and South Devon Veterinary Hospital tailors treatment of this condition to the individual patient (age, weight, activity level and many other factors influence what is the best treatment option). Where surgery is indicated we use a range of surgical techniques including: lateral stabilisation (where the knee is stabilised with a nylon prosthetic); TPLO (Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy – a technique where angles in the joint are adjusted by cutting the bone) and TTO (Triple Tibial Osteotomy – another technique where angles in the joint are adjusted by cutting the bone).

Soft tissue and general surgery

Soft tissue and general surgery

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

Soft Tissue and General Surgery

We are able to carry out a wide range of soft tissue surgery including neutering, lump removals, thyroidectomys as well as abdominal and thoracic surgery. All operations are carried out in our state of the art theaters in strict aseptic condition. We are also able to offer advanced surgical procedures a lot of them using minimally invasive techniques.

Advanced surgery - what can we offer?

We are able to carry out many soft tissue surgical procedures using keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery. Resulting in a more rapid recovery and reducing pain for our patients. One of the most commonly performed laparoscopic procedures is neutering of female dogs – also called a ‘keyhole spay’.

Our focus in planning all surgical and diagnostic procedures is to use the most minimally invasive approach possible, for example:

  • For short nosed dogs (e.g. pugs, french bulldogs, bulldogs) that suffer from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Disease (BOAS), our minimally invasive approach has many benefits. Our endoscopes allow us to properly assess the airways and gastrointestinal tract (many of these dogs will have inflamed oesophagus or stomach) if required before surgery. Our ultrasonic scalpel allows us to carry out the surgery with no bleeding at all into the airway – bleeding into the airway poses a risk of serious complications when the surgery is carried out without such advanced technology.
  • For dogs or cats with ear disease, that may be referred for Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA), we are able to fully assess the ears before surgery using both CT and otoendoscopy. In many cases we may be able to identify a cause for the ear disease that may then avoid the need for major surgery. Where this is not the case, we can better plan the surgery using this information.
  • For dogs and cats referred with stones in their urine, that may be causing them trouble urinating (Urolithiasis), in most cases we will be able to remove the stones either with no incisions at all (in many female dogs and cats), or through small keyhole incisions. The pets recover much quicker than when open bladder surgery is used.

  • For dogs or cats that require exploratory surgery to collect samples of organs (for example a liver biopsy), we are able to carry this out using keyhole surgery.

Ophthalmic (Eye) Surgery

Ophthalmic (Eye) Surgery

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

Ophthalmology Surgical Services

Not only do we offer a specialist ophthalmology referrals for clients referred from other vets practices but these services are also available to clients who use South Devon Veterinary Hospital as their main practice. We are able to offer all types of intraocular and extraocular surgery including:

  • Phacoemulsification cataract surgery and intraocular lens placement
  • Traumatic corneal and intraocular surgery
  • Medical and surgical management of glaucoma including gonio implants
  • Electroretinography (ERG)
  • Entropion and facelift surgery
  • Catholysis
  • Corneal surgery
  • Lens luxation surgery
  • Cryosurgical tumour removal

Neutering

Neutering

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

Having your pet neutered

Neutering has many benefits for both you and your pet. As a responsible pet owner you’ll also be doing your part to prevent any more animals being abandoned, dumped or given away because there aren’t enough homes to go around. We have an advice page on neutering for more information.

Why should I neuter my pet?

For more information take a look at our neutering advice page.

What is neutering?

Neutering is the gender neutral name for surgically preventing pets from reproducing. In males it is called ‘castration’ and in females it is called ‘spaying’. The term for both males and females who have not been neutered is ‘entire’.

What will happen when my pet is neutered at South Devon Veterinary Hospital?

All animals for neutering need to have had a recent health check with a vet to ensure that there aren’t any problems before being put under and anaesthetic.

We ask that cats and dogs (NOT rabbits) are starved overnight before being admitted with a nurse in the morning. Dogs, cats and rabbits are kept separately and will have their own comfortable kennel (have a look at the tour for pictures). All animals will have an intravenous catheter placed to make the anaesthetic as safe as possible. Just before surgery all animals receive a personalised premedication to relax them and provide pain relief before the surgery takes place.

Once animals have been put under anaesthetic the surgical site is scrubbed clean before moving through to theatre. When a male is castrated both testicles are removed which not only prevents reproduction but also takes away the main source of the hormone testosterone. In females spaying involves removing either; the ovaries and uterus (ovariohistorectomy) or the ovaries alone (ovariectomy). At South Devon Hospital we routinely perform ovariectomys in dogs and cats as numerous studies have shown this provides the benefits of spaying but with less trauma.

Once the surgery is complete your pet will recover under the supervision of a registered vet nurse and will be given repeat pain relief as needed. Most animals don’t take long to recover and are soon keen to go home. All animals are sent home the same day with continuing pain relief and are seen for a post- operation check within a few days of surgery. Depending on the type of surgery your animal has had they may also need to wear a lampshade/ Elizabethan collar.

Laproscopic/ Key hole spay

At South Devon Veterinary Hospital we are able to offer the latest in minimally invasive surgery which has been shown to shorten recovery time significantly. We are also able to neuter male dogs with retained testicles using keyhole surgery

More information

If you have any further questions regarding when and whether to neuter your animal we suggest you make an appointment with a vet either online or by calling 01626 367 972.

Anaesthetics, Sedation and Pain Relief

Anaesthetics, Sedation and Pain Relief

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

Providing safe anaesthetics for our patients

All our anaesthetics are tailored to the patient and continually monitored by a dedicated nurse. Advanced monitoring is always used and includes capnography (which measures carbon dioxide being breathed in and out), pulse oximeter (which measures oxygen levels in the blood), ECG (which measures the electrical activity of the heart) and non-invasive blood pressure. We also have the facilities to give fluids intraoperatively if required. We regularly and routinely monitor the temperature of patients and ensure they do not get too cold or too warm whilst under anaesthetic.

South Devon Veterinary Hospital regularly uses advanced anaesthetic techniques, such as two mechanical ventilators which breathe ‘for’ patients when required. On a daily basis we administer anaesthetics to older (geriatric) patients and those with complex medical conditions such as diabetes. The combination of facilities, expertise and experience allows us to minimise the risk as far as possible.

Preventing pain in our patients

Preventing pain in our patients is a priority and central to our approach.

  • Before surgery we give medications to prevent pain developing during a surgical procedure. For most patients this will include medications from the opioid group (e.g. morphine) and from the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) group (e.g. meloxicam).
  • During surgery we use techniques to keep pain to a minimum. This includes careful surgical technique, use of minimally invasive surgery (keyhole surgery), use of local anesthetic (that numb the area of surgery – examples include epidurals), and topping up pain relief medication at appropriate intervals.
  • After surgery we monitor patients regularly for signs of pain. We continue to give pain relief drugs as needed whilst patients are in hospital. We will always send clients home with appropriate follow-up pain medication. We also use techniques such as cold therapy where appropriate.