Surgery is a scary thought for anyone, but advances in human medicine are helping to make patients more comfortable and shortening stays in the hospital. Even our pets are now benefiting from these improvements!

By: Dr. Jeff Latimer

In the sci-fi thriller, “Fantastic Voyage,” doctors and scientists are miniaturized and injected into a fellow scientist in order to save his life. We may need more time to develop that type of technology, but cutting edge innovationsare making their way into veterinary offices, providing a higher level of care for our pets.

Laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure, was first performed on a dog in 1902! In the intervening years, human surgeons have perfected techniques to removal gall bladders, relieve the discomfort of endometriosis, and even help individuals with morbid obesity. Many of these techniques have been adapted by veterinary surgeons, as well.

A laparoscope consists of a telescoping rod and lens system connected to a video camera and light source. The surgeon inserts the laparoscope into the patient through a tiny (less than 1 inch long) incision. The abdomen is then filled with carbon dioxide to create space to work. Additional attachments, such as scissors, retractors, and devices for placing sutures are introduced and manipulated to complete the surgery.

Dr. Ray Cox, Dr. Jim Hailey, Dr. Chad Devitt and Dr. Markee Kuschel make up a team of veterinary surgeons in Colorado.  With the help of Mr. John Small, of Biovision Technologies, they have taken this technology one step further. By modifying the older technology, equipment and surgical techniques, routine surgeries can now be performed through just one incision, 11mm long. Smaller incisions mean shorter recovery time and, above all, less pain.

Surgeries considered “routine” by pet owners and veterinarians, such as spaying a female dog, are now considered good candidates for the laparoscope. Dr. Kuschel states, “…the advanced technique of the laparoscopic assisted surgery enables better visualization and a reduced chance of hemorrhage during a routine spay .”

And Dr. Kuschel is not alone. Another surgical center in Colorado performed a study in which 10 dogs were spayed via traditional surgical methods and 10 dogs were spayed with the laparoscope. The results of this study show that 90% of the traditionally spayed dogs needed additional pain relief medications after surgery whereas none of the dogs in the laparoscopic assisted group did. Blood concentrations of cortisol, a good indicator of stress levels, increased only in the traditional group.

Veterinarians are not only using this revolutionary new tool for spays, but as an aid to help diagnose disease. Surgeons are able to biopsy internal organs with laparoscopic surgery.

This high-tech gadget can actually save lives too! Many large and giant breeds of dogs are prone to a twisting of the stomach commonly known as “bloat.” This emergency and extremely painful condition can be easily prevented.

For more information about how this technology is helping pets being spayed in our area, please contact Dr. Latimer at 613-634-7123, or visit, or follow us on Facebook at Princess Animal Hospital!