What is keyhole surgery? 

What is keyhole surgery?

As with human keyhole surgery, there are lots of benefits to laparoscopy, and the term minimally invasive surgery is a clue to them all. Because it is minimally invasive it leads to quicker recovery times and smaller wounds, but the most important advantage is that it results in safer surgery with improved outcomes.

  • safer surgery with improved outcomes – because of the equipment used in laparoscopic surgery the vet has improved visibility whilst operating; magnified images show more detail. They also have improved access to the surgical area, and don’t need to move other internal organs out of the way to enable surgery; resulting in reduced internal trauma.
  • quicker recovery times – as a direct result of reduced internal trauma your pet feels less pain. Research has shown that following keyhole surgery dogs are 70% more active in the 3 days after surgery, and most are ready for gentle exercise within a day.
  • smaller wounds – smaller wounds aren’t just cosmetic benefits to keyhole surgery, they heal much quicker and reduce the risks of infection and hernias forming.

What surgical procedures can Laparoscopy be used for?

The most common procedure minimally invasive surgery is used for is spaying, but it can also be used for biopsies, gall bladder removal, bladder stone removal and gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV or bloat) preventative surgery. In the United Kingdom, it is estimated that less than 1% of suitable veterinary procedures are performed by minimally invasive surgical techniques.

Laparoscopic Spay

Spaying is the surgical sterilisation of a female dog. Traditionally carried out by the removal of the ovaries and the womb in an ovariohysterectomy, it is now recognised that removing just the ovaries is equally effective whilst reducing surgical time and patient trauma.

In a Laparoscopic Ovariectomy (keyhole spay) endoscopes make tiny entry wounds in the skin and the abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide. An electro-scalpel is then guided into the space with a camera. A strong fibre-optic light source and magnification give an excellent view of the abdominal cavity, enabling the surgeon to grasp the ovary and remove a section at a time using a small blade. An electric current is used to seal any blood vessels before sectioning off the uterus and ovarian stem, cauterising the area and procuring minimal bleeding.


Ovariohysterectomy Laparoscopic Ovariectomy (keyhole spay)
Around one-hour surgery time

Full recovery after four weeks

Long internal/external wound

Stitches removed after 10-14 days

Collar required while wounds heals

Some pain

Around 30 minutes surgery time

Full recovery after one week

One tiny puncture wound

No stitches

Minimal pain


Why should you choose a Laparoscopic Spay?

There is no difference in the effect of both types of spaying. Both techniques stop the bitch from coming into season, as well as eliminating the risk of unwanted pregnancies, mammary cancer (if performed when young enough), Pyometra (infection of the womb) and vaginal hypertrophy and prolapse.

Your pet will be successfully neutered whichever procedure you opt for, but will endure less trauma and recover faster if keyhole surgery is used. As spaying often takes place in young bitches, keeping them quiet and restricting exercise for four weeks is often as stressful for the owner as it is for the dog, so a full recovery in two to seven days is a welcomed bonus. As are the tiny puncture wounds,  even the much maligned ‘Elizabethan’ collar, or cone of shame as it is frequently called, isn’t enough to prevent some dogs from licking or biting at stitches following routine abdominal surgery.