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What is Diaphragmatic Herniorrhaphy?

Diaphragmatic herniorrhaphy in cats is a surgical procedure used to correct hernias in the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the muscular separation between the feline’s chest and abdominal cavities. This muscular separation keeps the organs in place and aids the cat in respiration. A diaphragm hernia is a disruption in of the diaphragm that allows protrusion of an organ through the muscular wall and into the chest cavity. All hernias should be considered a medical emergency as trapped organs or tissues caught in the open body wall have poor blood circulation, and usually die over a short period of time. Diaphragmatic herniorrhaphy in cats is performed by a veterinary surgeon and only after a successful surgery will the cat have a positive prognosis. 

Diaphragmatic Herniorrhaphy Procedure in Cats

Diaphragmatic herniorrhaphy is carried out under general anesthesia. The veterinarian will perform pre-operative blood work to ensure the feline is in good health to have anesthetic administered and for the surgery itself. 

  1. The feline will be administered an injectable sedative before going into the pre-surgical area. 
  2. Once the cat is sedated, a member of the veterinary staff will take the feline to the pre-operative area to have a tracheal tube placed. A tracheal tube will be placed to allow oxygen and gas anesthetic to be delivered to the pet. 
  3. The cat will be taken to the surgical area where she/he will be placed on the surgical table in dorsal recumbency. 
  4. The cat’s fur will be shaved over the affected area and scrubbed with an antimicrobial solution. 
  5. The cat will be hooked up to oxygen, followed by a gas anesthetic to allow her to relax and rest comfortably without pain during the surgical procedure. 
  6. The area around the hernia will be draped with surgical cloth and the procedure will begin. 
  7. The veterinary surgeon will make an incision over the hernia. 
  8. Displaced bowel or fatty tissue will be pushed back into place. If necrotic tissue is present, the dead tissue will need to be removed. 
  9. A mesh will then be placed in the abdominal wall to prevent the tissues from protruding from the weak spot in the future. 
  10. The open area of the cat’s skin will be cleaned and the veterinarian will place sutures as needed internally, followed by skin closure. 
  11. The cat will be removed from gas anesthetic and oxygen as soon as the anesthetist is positive the feline’s vital signs (heart rate, breathing rate, temperature) are normal. 
  12. The tracheal tube will be removed and the cat will be allowed to recover in a quiet area. 

Efficacy of Diaphragmatic Herniorrhaphy in Cats

Diaphragmatic herniorrhaphy in cats is the best standard care for surgically correcting the hernia. The prognosis for a feline hernia is initially guarded, but once the cat is stabilized and if the surgical repair was successful, the odds of a full recovery are in favor of the feline. 

Diaphragmatic Herniorrhaphy Recovery in Cats

Diaphragmatic herniorrhaphy in cats will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes to complete, but the cat may require a period of hospitalization after the surgery. During this time, the veterinary staff will monitor the patient and administer pain management medications paired with antibiotics to prevent infection. Once the cat is allowed to return home, her/his physical activities will be restricted and an Elizabethan collar will likely be worn to prevent the feline from ripping out the stitches. Prescribed medications will continue at home as directed by the veterinarian. 

Cost of Diaphragmatic Herniorrhaphy in Cats

A non-emergency diaphragmatic herniorrhaphy procedure can cost approximately $150 to $400, minus pre-surgical lab work. If the hernia is a medical emergency, pet owners can expect to pay on the higher end of $500 as the veterinary professionals will do everything they can to save your cat’s life. 

Cat Diaphragmatic Herniorrhaphy Considerations

Diaphragmatic herniorrhaphy in cats does require anesthetic, which may be a concern for some pet owners. General anesthetic is always a controlled substance and almost all cats handle anesthetic well. 

Diaphragmatic Herniorrhaphy Prevention in Cats

A hernia can be the result of an injury to the abdomen, a defect after an invasive surgical procedure or occur for unknown reasons. Dietary management, oral antacid preparations and other medical treatments can aid in mild signs on a body wall hernia, but always seek professional veterinary attention before treating.