Thursday 21st July, 2022

The top seven most asked questions about the keyhole spay

The keyhole spay is a significant advancement in patient care and public and professional opinion is rapidly leaning towards the procedure.

But when we talk about the keyhole laparoscopic spay there are a number of questions that are regularly asked…

So we thought we would answer and share them!


1. If you only remove the ovaries then is my dog at risk of uterine cancer?

No. There are now lifelong studies published in dogs spayed at six months old laparoscopically and followed throughout their entire lives. ZERO died from any uterine complications.


2. Can my dog still get a pyometra (womb infection)?

No. There has to be active ovarian tissue left behind for this to be a possibility.


3. So why is the uterus taken away in a traditional spay?

It’s not necessary. The uterus is removed, which is ‘what has always been done’ and taught. It doesn’t need to be. Many other countries now perform an open ovariectomy (removing the ovaries only).


4. What if you can see something wrong with the uterus?

We can remove it. The uterus can easily be removed laparoscopically too.


5. What about urinary incontinence?

Undecided. The occurrence of SMI (Sphincter Mechanism Incompetence), a leaking bladder when at rest, occurs in older spayed female dogs. This is linked to the lack of oestrogen. There is some anecdotal evidence that keyhole spaying, by leaving the support structure of the uterus behind, improves the management of SMI when it happens. Research on this is ongoing.


6. To achieve keyhole surgery the abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide – I have heard this causes pain in people?

It does not cause pain in dogs. Yes, activation of the phrenic nerve leaves shoulder pain in some people who have had keyhole surgery – but this does not happen in dogs.


7. But my vet already does ‘keyhole surgery’ open, through a tiny hole.

Whilst the small open surgical incisions experienced vets can achieve look impressive, the stretching and pulling needed to access all the anatomy through this small hole is arguably more. Studies in small dogs under 10kg, using pedometers, show significant improvement in post-operative movement in those spayed via the keyhole method.

Posted by Rhea Alton