Find out more about keyhole surgery

Laparoscopic (“keyhole”) surgery is a minimally invasive option for a number of both routine and non-routine surgeries in veterinary patients. One of our vets, Eamon Walsh, has been performing laparoscopic surgery since 2011 and has performed well over one thousand keyhole procedures.

Bitch spays performed by laparoscopy lead to quicker patient recovery with less post-operative pain and are well tolerated by our veterinary patients. There is little or no blood loss and trauma is minimal due to the small incisions and the lack of tissue handling. We are delighted with the results and the positive response from our clients, both internal and referral.

The procedure involves inserting a camera and instruments into the patient via “ports” (small incisions) under general anaesthetic. Gas is used to increase the space in the body cavity under general anaesthetic. A camera and instruments are introduced through small incisions to perform the surgery. Electro surgery (i.e. using electric current rather than stitches) is used to close the blood vessels. The incisions are closed with single stitches. It requires specialist equipment and training therefore the procedure will have an additional cost. Keyhole surgery has been the norm in human surgery for many years due to its advantages over open surgery.

Frequently asked questions about laparoscopic spays:

What is it?

Laparoscopy is used for minimally invasive or “keyhole” procedures to minimise post operative pain and discomfort and dramatically shorten recovery times. The most common procedure is a ovariectomy or spay. However we can also remove retained testicles and take biopsies of organs such as the liver.

Can any animal have laparoscopy?

Most animals are suitable candidates, but very small, very large and obese animals are sometimes more difficult to perform surgery on. If you are interested, please discuss with your vet at your pre-operation check.

Are there any possible complications?

In rare circumstances, the surgery may be converted to an open midline spay. The main reasons for this would be anatomy, equipment failure or bleeding obscuring the surgeon’s view.

Is there any limit on age?

The procedure is safe in both young and geriatric patients, however we recommend preoperative bloods in older patients.

Is it the same as a normal bitch spay?

No, this is a less painful and traumatic surgery consequently the rest period and recovery time is significantly reduced.

Is there a risk of future uterine infection with just ovariectomy?

Studies have shown that once the ovaries have been removed there is no risk of developing uterine infection (also known as pyometra) in the future.

Advantages of laparoscopic surgery:

  1. Decreased operative and post op pain therefore lighter anaesthesia and a faster/more predictable recovery
  2. No skin stitches and very small surgical incisions (1cm to 2cm)
  3. Reduced risk of patient interference/infection with surgical wounds (usually no need for a buster collar)
  4. A faster return to normal, pain free activity/exercise post surgery. They can go off the lead in 5 to 7 days.


“Just a quick note to thank you all so much for the wonderful care ye gave to our cocker spaniel Jessie on the 27th of February. It's like a dream to think that she is now spayed, with no trouble or bad experiences for her or us, after only one day. She was ready to run again, but we restricted her for a few days: after 5 days she was racing the mountains of Crookhaven and doing a few miles in the sand dunes of Barley Cove, chasing the hundreds of rabbits that she has never managed to catch.”

Maureen and Jimmy, West Cork.

“When we decided to get our Shih Tzu Lexi neutered we were extremely nervous about the procedure and the recovery time, however that all turned out to be for nothing. A big thank you to Eamon and the rest of the staff, who were absolutely fantastic. The keyhole procedure itself was fast with zero discomfort for our little dog (she was bounding around an hour later), to be honest it  was so good you wouldn't have even known she had surgery at all. Highly, highly recommended.” 

Paul, Belfast.

“I brought Suzie, my golden lab, in for spaying around six weeks ago. I have since recommended the procedure to everyone who will listen. Our little bichon x, Honey, was completely miserable for 2 weeks after her traditional spay, which was a large part of the reason I had delayed having Suzie spayed. She has had several operations in the past and I was very reluctant to have her opened up again, for an elective procedure. The difference between Honey and Suzie after the spaying was amazing. In contrast to Honey's obvious distress, Suzie jumped into the car after the operation and enthusiastically attacked her dinner that evening. She was back to galloping around the garden, leaping bushes the next day. I don't think she even noticed that anything had happened to her! I would never, ever get a dog spayed any other way. Thank you.”

Marie, Cork.

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