Laparoscopic (keyhole) Surgery

We are very proud to be able to offer keyhole surgery using our high-definition Karl Storz system.

Keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery is minimally invasive surgery which involves passing a camera and specialised instruments through small (0.3-1cm) incisions in the body wall to perform a surgical procedure.

You may know the many advantages of keyhole surgery for humans, and the same is true for our pets.

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There are many surgical and diagnostic procedures we can perform using this specialised equipment and training. The most common is keyhole spaying/neutering (laparoscopic ovariectomy) for female dogs.

laparoscopic Spaying/Neutering (Ovariectomy) for female dogs

This surgery is performed through just 2 small incisions (0.3-1cm) in the abdomen. Both ovaries are removed while the uterus is only removed if abnormalities are present.

One incision is for the camera, which displays a magnified view on a monitor allowing a clear picture for the surgeon. The second incision is for the surgical instruments.

This technique has a much quicker recovery time than traditional methods due to being less invasive with patients typically less sore post-op and owners noticing a rapid resumption of normal behaviour and activity.

What are the advantages of keyhole surgery?
  • Especially good for bouncy and highly energetic dogs that are difficult to get to rest after an operation.
  • Smaller incisions (0.3cm-1cm compared with 3cm-15cm with a traditional spay)
  • A clearer and safer view for the surgeon as the surgical site is well-lit and enlarged on a full-colour HD screen allowing better visualisation.
  • Less pain after the operation
  • Faster healing time
  • Fewer post-operative complications- less risk of hernia formation.
  • Minimal wounds to bother at
  • Can usually return to full activity, including off-lead exercise within 2-3 days. This is after they have been re-assessed at their 2 days post-op check (this is included in the cost of the surgery).
  • Owners need to take less time off work due to a much shorter recovery period.

Keyhole surgery requires expert training for our team and investment in specialised equipment and it’s ongoing maintenance. There is, therefore, an additional cost associated with most keyhole surgery compared to open surgery.

Misconceptions of Laparoscopic Spays
  • Nothing wrong with the “old” way – Laprascopic spays are an improvement as studies show faster recovery time, fewer post-op complications and less pain compared to traditional spays.
  • The uterus is left behind so is there is a risk of pyometra (infection in the womb)/ uterine cancer? – Studies show that there is no increased risk as these are normally hormonally related and the source of the hormones, the ovaries, are removed. (Ovarectomys are commonplace in veterinary medicine across Europe)
  • They will get a sore shoulder (as seen in humans) – This has never been reported in veterinary patients.
  • Traditional bitch spays can be done through small holes (by some vets) – Doing the procedure laparoscopically means you can visualise what is going on much easier as the image is magnified on an HD colour screen with excellent light –  not looking down a small  (black) hole e.g. any bleeding can easily be seen,  any abnormalities in the abdomen are more likely to be identified as the entire abdomen is visualised while tissue handling itself is minimised.
Frequently Asked Questions

In a conventional spay, the ligaments connecting the ovaries to the abdomen have to be stretched, which causes pain.  With keyhole spaying these ligaments are cauterised and cut, which is significantly less painful.

Due to the positioning of the instruments, is it necessary to clip a large area of hair on the sides and the belly. This ensures the area is sterile for surgery.

Both small incisions are normally closed with dissolvable stitches under the skin, so most pets do not pay attention to the wounds.  It is important to ensure they don’t lick, so occasionally a pet will require a body suit or collar to prevent this.

For a conventional spay, patients need to rest for 10-14 days, with keyhole procedures the rest time is just 2-3 days so long as the recovery goes as planned, we can advise on this at the 2/3 day post-op check.

Most pets are very comfortable after keyhole surgery. We administer pain medication on the day of their operation and also send them home with some additional painkillers to be used if needed.

Many studies have been performed looking into the risk of leaving the uterus behind. So long as the ovaries are fully removed, there is no benefit to the patient of removing the uterus. In order to develop pyometra, hormones are required, which come from the ovaries. Therefore, without ovaries, it is not possible to develop these conditions. If we see that the uterus looks abnormal during the procedure, we may be able to remove it laparoscopically or may advise converting to open surgery to do so.

The effect of both surgeries is the same. Spayed females will not have seasons, cannot become pregnant, and will not develop false pregnancies. Spayed animals cannot develop life-threatening uterine infections (pyometra) or ovarian tumours.

If you would like us to perform a laparoscopic procedure and you are not registered with the practice, please get in touch to discuss your requirements to see if we can help.  We would always need to get the patient’s history from your existing vet to check the patient is a suitable candidate.  We would also need to let your existing vets know that we were performing this operation and once completed we would pass the notes back to your current vet.  You would remain registered with your existing practice.

Yes – John was one of the first vets on the Isle of Wight back in 2016 to start undertaking laparoscopic surgery and has done many laparoscopic surgeries since then.