Elders Equine is the only practice in Manitoba to offer laparoscopic surgery in horses and is the first to have provided laparoscopic surgery in a horse in the Province. Laparoscopic surgery is a procedure where a long rigid camera is sterilely placed into a medically induced gas distended abdomen of the horse in order to examine, diagnose and treat numerous conditions of the reproductive tract, large/small intestine, liver, spleen, stomach, kidney's and body wall (such as hernias).
The most common use for laparoscopic surgery has become the laparoscopic cryptochidectomy (removal of an undescended testicle from the abdomen). This procedure is typically done with the under general anesthesia but can be done standing. The abnormal testicle is identified with the long laparoscope which is placed through a small (10mm) incision at the umbilicus (belly button) and then several long instruments are placed at various locations through the abdominal wall (again very small incisions) to manipulate and remove the offending testicle. Subsequently the normal testicle is also removed during the same procedure while under general anesthesia. The major benefits of the procedure are small incisions (minimally invasive), visual confirmation and identification of the testicle in the abdomen which allows for more accurate and safer removal of the testicle, decreased risk of bleeding from the intra-abdominal site and ability to close the internal inguinal ring (if needed). Horses have a quicker recovery time as there are no large incision or invasions of the abdomen or inguinal ring with a hand to retrieve the testicle (as is traditionally done with a standard cryptochid removal).
Another common procedure performed in the abdomen is standing ovariectomy. This is the removal of one or both ovaries in mares to either modify behavior or to treat a ovarian tumor (also called a granulosa thecal cell tumor). This procedure is often performed with the mare standing under sedation and thus minimizes the anesthetic risks. The incisions are minimally invasive and the whole procedure is directly visualized with the long laparoscope to ensure no bleeding occurs and the ovary is completely removed.
The laparoscope can also be used to close the nephrosplenic space which is a procedure used to prevent recurrence of a particular type of colic. The instruments can be used to break down adhesions that form in the abdomen particularly after conventional abdominal surgery or colic surgery (most common).It can be used to removal bladder stones in geldings and can be used to assess the large organs of the abdomen such as the kidney's, liver and spleen.
There are numerous uses for this advanced minimally invasive technology and Dr. Bell is always available to discuss the possible options for your horse if a laparoscopic approach can be used. Dr. Bell was trained by laparoscopic leaders in Western Canada and the USA. If you have any questions about the procedures, feel free to give us a call.