Laparoscopy has been common in human medicine and surgery for years, allowing for less invasive surgical and diagnostic procedures with a quicker and less painful recovery. Westgate Pet Clinic recently began performing laparoscopic ovariectomies, a less invasive alternative to the traditional ovariohysterectomy, or spay.
With the traditional ovariohysterectomy, a single incision is made along the abdominal midline, large enough to be able to reach and remove both ovaries and the uterus. Typically, the recovery from this surgery requires restricted activity for 10-14 days and pain control for 5-7 days after the procedure. Increased activity increases the risk of failure of the closure of the abdominal incision and tends to prolong any discomfort the animal may experience.
With laparoscopic ovariectomy, two small, approximately 1 cm (3/8 inch) incisions are made along the midline of the abdomen, through which two small ports are placed. The abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide, allowing space to operate. One port allows the introduction of a fiber optic laparoscope through which the organs of the abdomen can be seen magnified on a video monitor. The second port is a working port, through which instruments can be placed to remove the ovaries. Electrocautery is used to close and cut the blood vessels leading to the ovaries and each ovary can be removed through the working port incision. Additionally, other organs of the abdomen including the uterus, urinary bladder, intestines, stomach, liver, kidneys and spleen can all be visualized during this procedure allowing identification of unexpected abnormalities.
Because of the small size of the incisions, there is much less pain after a laparoscopic ovariectomy, and patients recover very quickly. Exercise is restricted for two days after the day of the surgery and animals rarely need more than 24 hours of pain medication. Owners of patients have compared recovery to that of a dental cleaning.