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It is scary when pets have to face the inevitable surgery and go
"under the knife." The fear felt as a pet owner may be alleviated
as veterinarians are now embracing a practice that has been around
in human operations for years - one which may cause less harm and
less stress for pets. This technique is called minimally invasive
surgery (MIS), and it may be the best choice for those pets
MIS is a surgical technique that makes a small incision in the
patient instead of making a large incision that opens the patient
up like in open surgery. Using the minimally invasive technique,
the surgeon initiates a small incision through the skin and into
the body cavity. Then a scope and camera are used to both visualize
and magnify the area being treated. Next, a small specialized
instrument is used to perform the surgery within the patient.
There are many benefits to minimally invasive surgery that are
not available in open surgery. The incision is not as large as in
open surgery which will cause pets less pain. Pets will be able to
go home sooner due to the smaller incision which has a faster
healing process. In most cases pets can go home the same day
or the next day because of the shortened recovery period.
Dr. Tige Witsberger, faculty of small animal surgery at Texas
A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical
Sciences, has performed several minimally invasive surgeries and is
optimistic about the growth MIS has had within the world of
"Just like in humans, MIS is becoming more popular in veterinary
medicine because it allows the pet to be more comfortable with a
smaller incision. In addition, a great advantage is the superior
visualization achieved by the magnified camera view. Finally, some
procedures can be performed more quickly because opening and
closure time is greatly reduced," explains Witsberger.
The two most common types of surgeries performed through MIS are
spaying procedures and gastropexies.
Some animals are better candidates for MIS. The size, health
condition and type of surgery a pet is having will determine if MIS
is a good option for any pet.
"Ideally, pets undergoing MIS are larger to allow for easier
placement of portals and scopes. However, it is possible to perform
MIS in small dogs and cats," said Witsberger.
MIS cannot be performed on pets that already have excessive
bleeding or pets who need to remove massive amounts of tissue.
As with any surgery there are always risks to consider before
making a decision.
"The biggest risk is inadvertent puncture of the abdominal organ
during placement of the needle or instruments in the abdominal
procedure. This most commonly happens to the spleen and bleeding
results. Usually this can be controlled by simply applying pressure
but conversion to an open procedure is possible in severe cases,"
explains Witsberger. "Another risk occurs because the abdomen must
be filled with air for visualization in laparascopy, or the lungs
may collapse when performing thorascopy. In addition, anesthetic or
cardiac complications are possible," said Witsberger.
A disadvantage to MIS is some surgeries may be more costly than
open surgeries as the equipment and the expertise needed is very
expensive. However, sometimes the hospital stay is shorter so the
final cost is equivalent to that of an open surgery.
While MIS may be an option for many pets, it is not for
everyone. Be sure to ask your veterinary surgeon if MIS is
appropriate for your pet's procedure.
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