Keyhole Surgery for Pets

14th September 2017   admin   No Comments

Keyhole Surgery for Pets

What is Keyhole Surgery?

Also known as minimally invasive surgery or laparoscopic surgery, this type of surgery is already the gold standard in care for many human health procedures. Keyhole surgery is available at only a limited number of vet practices in Australia, Prahran Veterinary Hospital is proud to lead the way in offering an in-house keyhole surgery service for pet lovers.

Veterinary surgeons performing a dog’s abdominal surgery using keyhole technology. At Prahran Vet we now routinely offer liver and gallbladder procedures performed in this way.

Unlike a conventional surgical incision (which may need to be several inches in length), keyhole surgery involves the insertion of a thin (5mm) surgical telescope into the patient’s abdomen or chest, this allows the surgeon to visualise the magnified internal organs on television monitors, reducing tissue trauma and invasiveness.

The principle benefits of keyhole surgery stem from its minimally invasive approach, and include:

  • Small wounds
  • Less pain
  • Faster recovery
  • More accurate surgery

Just as in humans, many different operations can be performed by keyhole surgery.  Here at Prahran Vet we use keyhole techniques in pets to perform desexing surgery (see below), organ biopsies, and tumour diagnosis and removal.  Ask one of our friendly team whether your pet’s procedure might be amenable to keyhole techniques.

What is Laparoscopic Desexing?

Pet owners have long been aware of the important health and behavioural benefits from desexing their pets.  Keyhole surgical technology represents the most exciting improvement in these procedures for decades, particularly for the speying of female animals or castrating male pets with retained (cryptorchid) testicles.  Desexing procedures are the most commonly performed keyhole surgeries at Prahran Vet.

Traditional spey techniques require the surgeon to make an incision through the abdominal wall that may run several inches in length (especially in large dogs).  The surgeon then removes both ovaries and uterus by manually pulling and tearing the ligaments that attach to these organs.  Whilst most vets are incredibly competent in this skilled procedure, the recognised potential complications include: bleeding, pain and inflammation; the result of which is delayed recovery and slightly higher risk of complications.

A magnified keyhole view of a dog’s ovary during a spey procedure. The surgeon can precisely handle the ovary and remove it with less pain.

A keyhole spey is totally different. Two very small (5mm) wounds are created through the skin and muscles into the abdominal cavity allowing the insertion of a fibre-optic camera and long, thin delicate instruments.  The surgery is entirely performed inside the body, with maximum precision, negligible bleeding risk and minimal invasion and trauma.  With laparoscopic surgery, only the ovaries are removed (ovariectomy), this shortens the surgical time and further reduces the risk.

The proven benefits¹ of keyhole desexing are:

  • • Reduced pain and discomfort
  • • Faster return to normal activities (no need to rest for 10-14 days post-operatively)²
  • • Negligible risk of bleeding
  • • Less medication (there is a reduced need for pain killers)
  • • Minimal infection risk (due to the minimally invasive nature of the technique).

What does Keyhole Cost?

You might be surprised to learn that in spite of the specialised equipment and surgical expertise required, Prahran Vet is able to make these advancements in care pleasingly affordable for pet lovers.

On average, procedures performed using keyhole techniques incur only a small surcharge of around $275. When factoring in the reduced need cost of medications, and potential lost income whilst caring for a pet recovering from traditional surgery, this represents outstanding value for you and your pet and most importantly their well being.

Please get in touch with one of our friendly vets or nurses if you’d like to discuss the possibility of performing your pet’s upcoming surgery via keyhole, call 95101335 or

  1. 1. Devitt, C.M. et al. (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(6), pp 921-7.
  2. 2. Culp, W.T. et al. (2009). “The effect of laparoscopic versus open ovariectomy on postsurgical activity in small dogs”. Veterinary Surgery. 38(7), pp 811-7.


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