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Emergency Care

Laparoscopic (keyhole) Surgery

What is it?

Keyhole surgery is a minimally invasive way of performing surgery. A small camera (laparoscope) is inserted through a 5mm incision into the abdomen to examine the internal organs via a magnified image displayed on a monitor. Special instruments are inserted through another small incision to allow delicate tissue handling. Keyhole surgery is considered gold standard in human surgery due to faster recovery, less pain, and fewer infections or other complications. These advantages are now available to your pets at Park Hill Veterinary Clinic when you choose the keyhole technique.

How is a laparoscopic bitch spay different from traditional open surgery?

A traditional spay requires a much longer incision to allow the surgeon to see and safely handle internal structures. Carrying out open surgery through a small incision means the surgeon is not able to fully visualise the relevant structures and blood vessels, and there is a risk of damage and increased pain due to excessive tension of the structures to pull them up through the incision.

A traditional spay removes both ovaries and the uterus. At Park Hill our laparoscopic spays remove only the ovaries, which has been proven to be equally effective at preventing womb infections, as well as immediately preventing further seasons.

During a traditional spay the blood vessels are tied off with suture material, whereas during a keyhole procedure they are sealed ultrasonically, so that no foreign material is left in the abdomen.

The reduced pain with keyhole surgery means less anaesthetic is required, resulting in a faster recovery, increased activity after surgery, reduced need for postoperative painkillers and less aftercare required – Many owners report that their pets are back to normal the following day, in contrast to the 10-14 days restricted exercise required after open surgery.

"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."

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


"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."

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.

Why is keyhole surgery not used more for pets?

Laparoscopic surgery requires a significant investment in equipment and training to carry it out to the highest possible standard. For this reason not every practice is able or willing to offer laparoscopic surgery, and where it is offered it is generally a little more expensive than traditional surgery. At Park Hill a laparoscopic spay costs approximately £100 more than open surgery and is a difference well compensated by the reduced pain and recovery time associated with it.


How do I arrange a keyhole spay?

Clients of Park Hill Veterinary Clinic can book by telephoning reception as usual. For clients from other practices we can still perform the surgery, but will always liaise with your usual vet to ensure patient safety and professional continuity.

Should you require any further information or wish to read some of the scientific evidence for the claims above please contact the surgery on 01884 255336

Please note: laparoscopic spays may not be suitable for very small dogs, including those less than 5kg

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