One of the most common surgical procedures we perform is a dog neuter, know medically as an orchectomy. It is performed for several reasons:
- It minimizes roaming
- It minimizes aggressive behavior
- It prevents male dogs from impregnating females.
- It prevents most prostate problems.
At the Long Beach Animal Hospital use of the laster is mandatory for all neuters. In this page we will first show you the surgery using the laser, then the traditional way this surgery is performed without the laser. The advantages of using the laser will be obvious.
Sometimes people get a jaded mindset when it comes to routine surgeries like neuters, that are performed by the thousands, especially at low cost spay and neuter clinics. It is a major surgery, and we treat it as such at the Long Beach Animal Hospital, which you will learn about in this page.
Several days prior to any surgery please bring in your pet for a preanesthetic exam and blood panel to confirm your pet is ready for anesthesia. At that time one of our doctors will go over any questions you have.
On the day of surgery we need your dog in the hospital between 7:30 AM and 8 AM. Please take away all food and water when you go to bed the evening before surgery, and do not give your dog anything to eat or drink the morning of surgery.
Our surgeon will call you after the surgery is complete and your dog is awake. It can go home in the late afternoon the day of surgery unless instructed otherwise. Please call our office at 4 PM for pickup time, you will be given written post operative instructions then. We are open until midnight if you need to pick up later.
The following page contains graphic pictures of an actual surgical procedure performed at the hospital.
Pre-anesthetic preparation is important in every surgery we perform, no matter how routine. Surgery is not an area to cut corners. All of our neuters receive a physical exam prior to surgery.
The pre-surgery physical exam is performed by the surgeon
If we haven’t already taken a blood panel prior to surgery, we can take one the day of surgery and have a report within 30 minutes
Once a pet is anesthetized, prepared for surgery, and had its monitoring equipment hooked up and reading accurately, the surgery can begin.
We keep a close tab on important physiologic parameters for all of our surgeries. Monitors like this give us an early warning of an impending problem. Our patients are carefully monitored to detect any abnormalities before they become a problem.
This machine monitors:
Carbon dioxide level
In addition to our monitoring equipment our anesthetist stays “hands on” in monitoring important physiologic parameters. We use a special stethoscope (called an esophageal stethoscope) that is passed down the esophagus and gives us a clear sound of the heart
Once our surgeon has scrubbed up and is in a sterile gown, gloves, and mask, the surgery begins
While our patient is being anesthetized our surgeon is already in our surgical suite setting up instruments. Our surgeon is ready to start before our patient is at a proper plane of anesthesia. Once the anesthetist gives the green light the surgery starts immediately. We want our surgeon ready and waiting for his patient, not the other way around. All of this is to minimize anesthetic time.
This page shows the surgical procedures for:
- A normal testicle using the laser
- A short video of a bloodless laser neuter at our hospital
- A testicle that has not completely descended into the scrotum and is in the inguinal canal using the scalpel blade
- A testicle that is still in the abdomen using the scalpe blade
- The use of neuticles
Using the laser has many advantages over using a scalpel blade. These include negligible bleeding during the procedure and post operative pain. Click on any of these pictures below for a larger version.
Once our patient is draped the procedure an begin
The initial skin incision in the scrotum
Notice the lack of bleeding from the skin as we enlarge the incision for room to remove the testicle. The white structure in the center is the testicle covered with protective tissue.
Once the incision is large enough the testicle bulges through with the aid of our surgeon.
The testicle is covered with a tissue called tunic. This tissue is gently opened with the laser to reveal the actual testicle.
All of the pertinent structures associated with the testicle are apparent in this picture. The white horizontal line below the surgeon’s thumb is the epididymus. The dark structure to the right of this is the panpiniform plexus. This plexus contains arteries and veins to cool the testicle, supply it with nutrients, and allow testosterone to go into the bloodstream.
Our surgeon is using a clamp to remove the excessive tissue of the tunic before ligating the vessels.
We always put two sutures on the blood vessels for safety’s sake and piece of mind for us.
We use the laser to cut the tissue. The testicle is to the right, and will be completely removed once the laser finishes the cut. The body is too the left, and once our surgeon makes sure there is no bleeding, this blood vessel is allowed to retract back into the body cavity.
The appearance of the blood-free initial incision just prior to suturing the skin
The final appearance of the sutured skin. There will be dramatically less postoperative swelling and pain with the use of this laser compared to the traditional way without the laser.
In addition to using the carbon dioxide laser to perform the surgery, we use the companion laser to aid the healing process at the incision before our patient is fully awake. When combined with the actual medication for pain we administer our patient wakes up with minimal to no pain and the healing process progresses faster.
After the skin is sutured we use our companion laser. This aids the healing process and decreases post operative swelling so your pet is more comfortable.
Companion Laser in use after an OVH
Click on the video to see it in action
Most dogs recover from this surgery in a few days, even those that have incisions in their abdomen. It is important to keep these dogs quiet for a few days postoperatively to allow the incision sites to heal. In most neuters we put in sutures that are just under the skin and dissolve on their own, so there is no need to return for suture removal.
Our Laser Page has detailed information on the use of the laser for various surgeries. Click on the movie below to see the neuter performed by laser.
The dog being neutered in this picture has only one testicle in the scrotum, called a cryptorchid or retained testicle. This happens in only a small percentage of the animals we neuter. The other testicle can be in the abdomen or in the inguinal canal (inner thigh region).
In this dog’s case it is in the inguinal canal, as evidenced by the bulge (arrow). It is important to remove the retained testicle because it can become cancerous later in life.
First we will remove the normal testicle, in this case the laser was not used because it was not available then. The procedure begins with an incision in the skin. We prefer to make our incision in front of the scrotum and not actually on the scrotum. This tends to minimize post operative licking and aids the healing process.
The testicle is gently squeezed forward and the incision over the testicle is made just big enough to gently squeeze it out. Smaller incisions heal faster, require less anesthetic time and there is less chance for complications.
The testicle bulges out of the incision cover by its internal layers called tunics. These tunics are carefully incised to expose the testicle and all its associated structures. In the picture on the right you can see 3 main testicular structures now that the covering is off. The vertically running dark blood vessels on the left are called the pampiniform plexus. They are a group of blood vessels that supply nutrients to the testicle, keep the testicle at an optimum temperature for viable spermatozoa, and distribute testosteron from the testicle into the general bloodstream. The structure just to the right of the pampiniform plexus, and partially surrounding the testicle, is the epididymus, the storage area of spermatozoa already produced by the testicle. The round structure to the right is the testicle itself.
The blood supply to the testicle is brought out and two sutures are placed around it. After the testicle is cut the sutured tissue is placed back through the incision.
Two layers of sutures are used to close the incision. The first is called the subcutaneous layer, because it is the layer of tissue under the skin. Sealing this layer gives an added margin of safety, especially if the dog licks the area excessively.
The skin layer is frequently closed in a suture pattern called subcuticular. This layer is the underside of the skin. This technique gives a cosmetic appearance and makes it difficult for a dog to chew its stitches out.
Since our patient in this case has one of his testicles in the inguinal area, the surgery is not finished yet. The skin incision and exposure of the other testicle is similar to the normal testicle removal. In this region though, there is significant fat under the skin.
The actual structures of the testicle and its blood supply are exposed, ligated with two sutures, and placed back into the inguinal area.
The same 2 layer closure is used in the inguinal area also. First the subcutaneous tissue, then the skin.
Here is a final view of our patient and his two incisions. As he wakes up from anesthesia he will be given an injection for pain.
When the retained testicle is not in the inguinal area it is located in the abdomen. This testicle can also become cancerous so it is important to remove it.
This patient only has one testicle in the scrotum. The other is in the abdomen.
In this case we have to make an incision along the penis and literally find this testicle in the abdomen. In this picture the testicle has been brought out through the 3 inch incision in the abdomen.
The post operative appearance showing both incision sites
You can easily see the difference in size between the atrophied testicle in the abdomen (left) and the normal testicle in the scrotum. The testicle in the abdomen was removed at a young age so it never had a chance to become cancerous.
This is the appearance of a different dog that had a cancerous testicle, called a seminoma. It was not removed until later in life, so it had a chance to enlarge tremendously.
This is the final look of the incision sites for this dog with the testicle in its abdomen. The head is towards the right and it is laying on its back. At the far left is the skin incision from the removal of the normal testicle in the scrotum. At the right-bottom is the incision from the testicle in the abdomen.
Both incisions are treated with our companion laser just after surgery
An interesting variation on this neuter surgery is the placement of solid silicone implants in place of testicles. This gives a natural look after neuter surgery that is desirable to some people. We highly frown upon having this done, have only performed it once, and don’t plan on repeating it.
This is the appearance of a normal dog scrotum prior to neuter surgery. Use it as a basis of comparison at the end of this section to see what the scrotum looks like when we have implanted neuticles in place of the testicles.
In this surgery the testicle is removed and the neuticle is placed in the sack that holds the testicle, called the tunic.
This is the sterile neuticle on the surgery tray ready for placement. Neuticles come in various sizes and shapes to be custom fitted to each individual.
The neuticle is gently implanted in place of the testicle. A proper fit is imperative, so it is important to order the proper size ahead of time.
When we are sure of a proper fit we carefully suture the tunic with a suture material that will eventually dissolve.
This is the final appearance after the placement of the neuticle.