A common surgery performed on female rabbits is a spay.
The medical term is an ovariohysterectomy (removal of ovaries and uterus),
abbreviated as an OVH. Like many females, rabbits are prone to cancer of the uterus,
so removal of the uterus at a young age will prevent this problem.
The following areas contain graphic pictures of an actual
spay performed at the hospital. It may not be suitable for all ages
Our patient that has been prepared for surgery
and has her Pulse Oximeter (black arrow) gently clasped to her rear
leg to monitor the anesthesia. Her head is at the top and she is laying on her back.
The nurse is adjusting the temperature of the heating pad
in the background on the left, and the surgeon is getting the instruments ready
in the background on the right. The instrument in the front is called a Pulse Oximeter.
It measures the oxygen saturation of the red blood cells ( 98% ), the pulse ( 192 ),
and the pulse strength ( 2 bars ). This rabbit is stable and ready for surgery.
After the skin incision is made a
second incision is made in the abdominal muscles.
There is a precise location for this incision, called the linea alba.
Incisions here have minimal bleeding and sufficient strength to hold sutures
when being closed at the end of the surgery.
The incision is enlarged so that the
uterus can be brought out and then removed. The surgery is
performed with the uterus out of the abdominal cavity.
A special instrument called a spay hook
is utilized to gently pull the uterus out of the incision.
Of all the different species we spay rabbits have the most delicate tissue.
If we are not careful in how we handle the uterine tissue it could tear in our hands.
Rabbits have a significant amount of fat around the ovaries
( black arrows) and along the uterus (white arrows). Both ovaries will be removed,
and the body of the uterus will be removed at the point of the white horizontal line.
The arrow points to of one of the ovaries that was indicated
in the previous picture. All of the tissue to the right of the metal clamp will be removed, including the ovary
All that remains after the ovary is removed is a small amount
of tissue. This area has two sutures around it to prevent any bleeding that might occur.
We use special sutures in the musclel to prevent a hernia.
In this case we are showing the use of stainless steel sutures placed in the linea alba.
They cause minimal tissue reaction and are very strong compared to other suture materials.
It is important to suture this area carefully to prevent a hernia. These stitches will stay with this
rabbit for the rest of her life, and will show up vividly on an x-ray.
Because of their strong propensity to chew, stainless steel
sutures are sometimes put in the skin on many occasions. A pain injection will
be given as she wakes up from anesthesia, and she will go home later that same day.
She will return in 7-10 days to have her stitches removed.
These two pictures give examples of why we spay rabbits.
The uterus on the left is a healthy one, the one on the right has cancer.
The cancerous uterus was removed only when this rabbit became ill.
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