scope_towerA Keyhole procedure underway, in the background the equipment tower is visible, with diathermy, camera, light source and insufflation units visible. The screen on the left shows the camera view from within the abdomen, the screen on the right shows the patient’s vital signs whilst under anaesthetic (blood oxygen levels and ECG heart trace).

We are now able to offer keyhole spaying for bitches. This is a great advance in the welfare of animals at neutering time and experts in the field now regard this as the gold standard for the spaying of bitches. Instead of the traditional incision, 2 much smaller incisions are made and a camera inserted. On the left is a post operative view of a normal spay wound. The sutures can clearly be seen. On the right is a post operative view of a keyhole spay. There are no skin sutures, and all that is left are the two small marks where the camera and instruments have been inserted into the abdomen.

‘Traditional’ spay wound Keyhole spay wound

large_woundUnder camera guidance, the ovaries are removed. The image on the right shows the cutting tool approaching the ovary, preparing for its safe removal. The ovary is then removed through the operating porthole.

Keyhole surgery is much less painful and traumatic than traditional methods, with better visualisation of all the important structures. Animals do not normally need a buster collar as there are usually no stitches in the skin. Recovery is much quicker and the animal is much more comfortable.

Using keyhole surgery techniques, we can also remove retained testicles from dogs, through a much less invasive procedure. Other techniques such as biopsies of internal organs can also be obtained in a safe fashion.

If you would like any more information on keyhole surgery at the practice, please contact us and ask to speak to Alistair.


What our clients say…

“We had been given the option of regular spaying or Keyhole spaying for Meg. Having previously experienced regular spaying with our other dog Flo, we know that recover time can be quite lengthy. Flo had stitches in for a week, experienced some pain, had to wear a buster collar for duration of that time and had been confined to her crate for a few days.

However, this time we chose Keyhole spaying and the difference has been fantastic! Meg had the operation as a day patient and came home from surgery that same afternoon. She had the two smallest cuts on her tummy that had been glued, a small dressings and no buster collar.

That night she recovered from the anaesthetic and the day after she was amazing. It was only because she had been shaven that you could tell she had just had abdominal surgery. She was bright and alert with a wag in her tail. She had no uncomfortable stitches, showed no signs of pain, although we gave her pain relief, and the hardest bit was slowing her down.

Four days post op at her check up, she was fantastic; she bounced into the surgery, demanding her usual attention! Her recovery has been remarkable.

We had never heard of Keyhole Spaying before, but having now experienced this with Meg, we would recommend this procedure every time.

Many thanks”

Sue B and Roger B…and of course Meg

“I’d recommend Keyhole spaying to anyone”

Andy N


Frequently asked questions

Q. Should I choose keyhole or conventional spaying?

A. Keyhole is less invasive, less painful with a quicker recovery time for your pet. Dogs are usually up and about within thirty minutes of the surgery and clearly feel much comfier. Keyhole spaying is not about the cosmetic result (smaller wounds) but about the dog feeling less pain after the surgery.

Q. How can you see what you are doing through such a small hole?

A. A digital video camera attaches to the end of the telescope, displaying images on an 18″ medical display screen. This means all the structures are magnified allowing a really clear view of what is being done. A powerful light is attached to the scope via fibreoptic cable so illumination is superb at the surgical site.

Q. What happens if something bleeds during the operation?

A. Surgery does not rely on ligatures or stitches placed round the blood vessels to stop bleeding. Instead the vessels are heat sealed using high frequency electricity. This means there are no ligatures to loosen or slip. If a vessel does bleed, it is simply grasped again with the sealing forceps and resealed. Any bleeding vessels are much easier to see than in a conventional bitch spay. The excellent visibility acheived with keyhole means it is very easy to examine the cauterised vessels after they have been sealed.

Q. If you are leaving the uterus behind is there an increased risk of pyometra (womb infection)?

A. No. The technique has been used in the UK for over twelve years and if all the ovarian tissue is removed, there is no evidence that there is an increased risk of pyometra over conventional spaying. Ovariectomy has been the standard procedure in mainland Europe for many years, including for non keyhole spaying.

Q. Is it more expensive than a conventional spay?

A. We do charge a supplement over an ordinary spay. This goes towards covering the cost of the equipment needed and ongoing costs for equipment renewal (the light bulb in the light source alone is about £700!)