Case Study - A Typical Bitch Spay
We have included this as a case study because it is one of the most common operations we do, so thought you would be interested. It is a complete hysterectomy, and in addition the ovaries are removed. By doing so we stop the female hormone oestrogen, which is the one responsible for seasons, and for causing breast cancers later in life. So spaying a young bitch can save her that hassle too.
Heidi is a six month old cross bred, weighing in at 23kg. She had been starved for about 8 hours, and her owner brought her in at 11am, after a short walk to make sure she had 'performed' and was therefore comfortable. We gave her a sedative injection and her first pain killer, then she went back to the waiting room for a few minutes. This meant that she wasn't worried or anxious, and gradually dozed off at her owner's feet, blissfully unaware of everything.
Once sleepy, we carried her through to her kennel, and after a short time she was anaesthetised and prepared for surgery. At this point she was linked to all the monitors and given a further painkiller. Being hairy, as you can see, we needed to clip her first, then disinfect ('sterilise') the operation site.
Photo 1: Before the 0peration.
Once taken into the theatre, the operation began.
Firstly, we had to make an incision through her tummy - the skin and muscle to enter the abdominal cavity
Photo 2: Entering the abdominal cavity.
We go between muscles and not through them which is different to most human ops, because it is the muscles being damaged that causes most of the pain afterwards, and we want Heidi back home in a few hours, pain free.
The abdomen contains all the bowels, the liver, kidneys, spleen and bladder. Believe it or not, we don't get to see these – the hole is too small and is just over the area of the womb.
Bitches have two long uterine horns unlike women, and it is in these that the pups are carried. In humans, we tend to have just one baby at a time, and it sits in the main body of the uterus; in dogs they have several so the organ is adapted to carry a lot of pups at the same time.
Photo 3: The Ovary and Tube
There is an ovary at the end of each of these uterine horns – this is where the eggs are produced. It is also where the huge blood vessels are found, so these have to be tied off securely.
Photo 4: The Ovarian Horn with ovary itself indicated by the instruments
The whole uterus and the ovaries can then be brought out while the cervix is tied, as shown below.
Photo 5: The Full Uterus
There are only three blood vessels to tie, and contrary to popular belief, there is very little blood around during the op, as you can see from the photographs.
Once the whole reproductive tract has been removed the abdomen is closed in layers – this makes it secure and safe - remember, Heidi will want to bounce around the next day, and wont have the luxury of being in a hospital for days on end, as people would!
Photo 6: Closing the midline.
The skin is sewn together either by normal visible sutures, or by discreetly sewing just under the skin. With Heidi we have decided to use a hidden line of sutures. This is great because there are no stitches to remove later, and no sutures to cause annoyance. The scar will be tiny too, as shown below.
Photo 7: The end result
Heidi's op took 3/4 hr in total. She returned to her kennel about five minutes after the last stitch was tied, already starting to come round. At this point her care was handed over to the ward nurse, who will stayed with her for the next 10-15 minutes until she could sit up.
Heidi went home about 3 hours after we had finished, in total having spent less than five hours at the surgery. Two days later she was happy to bound in with tail wagging, for a check up, proof that we had used enough painkillers, and had looked after her well so she didn't hold it against us!