Keyhole surgery, otherwise known as laparoscopic surgery, is a form of minimally invasive surgery and is considered by many to be the gold standard for neutering female dogs and male dogs with undescended testicles (see our cryptorchidism blog post).
What are the advantages?
Clinical studies have shown that keyhole surgery for spaying of female dogs and neutering of male dogs with undescended testicles has increased benefits when compared to traditional (open) surgery;
Reduced amount of pain after the operation. The surgical wounds are much smaller with keyhole surgery: 0.5 to 1 cm compared to 6 to 15 cm.
Your pet will return to her normal level of exercise sooner. Normally she must rest for 10-14 days, but after laparoscopic surgery only a few days of rest is required on average.
A significantly reduced risk of complications. Such as bleeding from the surgical site; this is due to the surgeon having much better visualisation of the ovaries and using advanced equipment to seal the vessels.
What does keyhole spaying involve?
In many ways the process is similar to the traditional spay, all aspects of pre-surgical preparation are identical and your pet will only need to be with is for the day.
The main difference is the process once your pet is under anaesthetic. Two small wounds are made on the dogs tummy. A small amount of gas is introduced internally through the first wound, to lift the body wall away from the internal organs, creating an internal ‘tent’ effect. A small camera is then inserted into the patient through the same wound to see the ovaries or testicles. Surgical instruments are inserted through the second wound to remove the ovaries or testicles.
In female dogs, we only remove the ovaries and leave the womb (uterus) inside. This is now routine practice in young dogs undergoing both keyhole and traditional surgery.
Are there any disadvantages?
Not really… For Keyhole surgery we do clip a larger area of fur extending up both sides of the dogs. This allows us to pick up the ovaries internally from the outside, as they are actually very close to the spine of a dog.
Complications can happen with any surgery, but they are very rare. In the worst case, keyhole surgery is converted to traditional open surgery, with no long-term consequences.
Why does the keyhole cost more than a traditional spay?
Keyhole surgery requires the use of highly specialised equipment, including small cameras, video screens and special instruments, some of which can only be used once.
Why Ovariectomy but not hysterectomy?
Removal of the ovaries is much less traumatic than combined removal of the ovaries and womb. Diseases of the womb in dogs, including infection and cancer, are mainly due to the female hormone, oestrogen. Oestrogen is produced by the ovaries, so as long as these are removed, the risk of diseases of the womb are very small.
Can every dog have a keyhole surgery?
For very small dogs, e.g. Chihuahuas and Toy Poodles, in which there is not enough space for our keyhole cameras and instruments, traditional open surgery is safer. As a result we are currently only offering this procedure to patients over 5kg who are not overweight.
For older dogs, who may already have early stages of disease in their womb or for dogs with confirmed disease of their womb, traditional open surgery to allow easy removal of their womb is advised. We would also recommend open surgery in patients that are severely overweight, although as with our traditional surgeries, a pre-surgical weight loss programmes to reduce overall increased risk would be recommended.
If you would like to book your pet in for a laparoscopic spay, or you would like to speak to one of the minimally invasive surgical team please call 0208 4449006