January 2009 Issue

Laparascopic Surgery

This cutting edge technique requires smaller incisions — and means less pain and a shorter recovery time for your cat.

Your normally active cat isn’t eating well, and she’s suffering from intermittent vomiting and diarrhea. You make an appointment at the veterinary clinic and during the exam, your veterinarian recommends a liver biopsy to determine exactly what’s going on. Sounds simple enough, but taking a biopsy requires that your cat be placed under general anesthesia and her abdomen cut open so the veterinarian can take a small sample of the liver. Afterward, the wound is sutured and your cat must remain in the hospital for a day or two for observation, all the while receiving medication to alleviate her post-operative pain. In the past, this was the typical scenario for all exploratory surgeries in the abdominal region of a cat’s body. Today, with advances in veterinary medicine, veterinarians have access to a revolutionary surgical technique called laparoscopy — a minimally invasive medical procedure that is being used with increasing frequency for a variety of diagnostic and surgical purposes. The technology is a giant step forward for the veterinary surgical field, according to James Flanders, DVM, an associate professor of surgery at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. "Traditionally, veterinarians would perform an ‘open’ surgery, where we make a large, mid-line incision in the abdomen in order to look inside and do whatever we need to do, whether it’s to take a biopsy of the liver or to remove bladder stones. Now, with the laparoscope, we only need to a few small incisions (each one about a half-inch in length). Because the incisions are so tiny, the animal experiences far less post-operative pain and recovers faster."

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