Until recently, spaying your bitch meant subjecting her to major abdominal surgery and all the risks that incurs. Now, bitch owners are starting to have a choice. Some veterinarians are opting to perform an ovariectomy (removing just the ovaries) rather than an ovariohysterectomy (removing the uterus and the ovaries). There are many advantages to this new surgery.
From the Whole Dog Journal article by Nancy Kay, DVM, some of the advantages of just doing an ovariectomy are:
- Compared to an OVH, an OVE requires less time in the operating room. This translates into decreased likelihood of anesthetic complications.
- Removal of the uterus requires that the surgeon perform more difficult ligations (tying off of large blood vessels and surrounding tissues with suture material before making cuts to release the organs from the body). A uterine body ligation that isn’t tied quite tightly enough can result in excessive bleeding into the abdominal cavity and may necessitate blood transfusions and/or a second surgery to stop the bleeding.
- The ureters (thin delicate tubes that transport urine from each kidney to the bladder) run adjacent to the body of the uterus. If a surgeon is not being extremely careful, it is possible to ligate and obstruct a ureter in the course of removing the uterus. This devastating complication requires a second corrective surgery; however, damage to the affected ureter and adjoining kidney may be irreversible.
- Removal of the uterus occasionally results in the development of a “stump granuloma” – a localized inflammatory process that develops within the small portion of uterus that is left behind. When this occurs a second “clean up surgery” is typically required.
- We know that the degree of post-operative patient discomfort correlates with the degree of surgical trauma. No question, of the two surgical options the OVH creates more trauma.