What is Exploratory Laparoscopy?

Exploratory laparoscopy is a surgical technique for viewing the internal structures of the abdominal cavity by passing a scope through a keyhole incision. Minimally invasive, the technique of exploratory laparoscopy is widely used in veterinary and human medicine. Conducted by an experienced veterinarian, a laparoscopic-guided organ examination permits precise and accurate site localization of a variety of internal organs. Direct visualization allows the personnel to excise a biopsy to ascertain a correct diagnosis, accurate prognosis, and specific therapy without the need for invasive exploratory surgery. Exploratory laparoscopy holds superiority over other non-invasive tests including MRI, x-ray and ultrasounds. Lastly, exploratory laparoscopy is the only available and practical means of repeated direct examination of the abdomen viscera with minor surgical intervention. 

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Exploratory Laparoscopy Procedure in Dogs

Preparing the dog for exploratory laparoscopy begins with a fasting period between 12 and 24 hours with fresh water available up till three hours before. The urinary bladder, stomach and colon should be empty prior to the procedure. General anesthesia is required to complete the exploratory laparoscopy. 

Exploratory laparoscopy is a method in which small incisions are made on the abdomen wall and instruments are inserted through specially designed ports. The procedure is granted visualization through the help of a camera is also introduced through one of these specialized ports. All ports are made on the dog’s midline. The exploratory portion of the procedure depends on the area the veterinarian wishes to view and the need for biopsied tissue. 

Following the exploratory laparoscopy, the laparoscope will be removed and CO2 gas will be allowed to escape from the abdominal cavity. The instruments and ports will be removed, allowing the veterinarian to close the abdominal openings using a single mattress suture pattern consisting of non-absorbable suture material. 

Efficacy of Exploratory Laparoscopy in Dogs

Exploratory laparoscopy is an effective procedure to directly visualize a problem that is affecting a dog internally. Exploratory laparoscopy proves to be the most effective form of diagnostic technique to visually confirm an internal complication. 

Exploratory Laparoscopy Recovery in Dogs

Following an exploratory laparoscopy, the canine will have some form of exercise restrictions to prevent the sutures from breaking. An Elizabethan collar will likely be worn to prevent manipulation of the incision sites. Depending on the findings of this diagnostic test, the veterinarian may schedule a surgery date or decide a treatment plan for the canine. 

Cost of Exploratory Laparoscopy in Dogs

The cost of an exploratory laparoscopy in dogs greatly depends on the hospital in which the exam is conducted and the abnormality found. On average, dog owners can expect to pay between $500 to $1,000 to have a canine exploratory laparoscopy. 

Dog Exploratory Laparoscopy Considerations

Exploratory laparoscopy does require general anesthesia, which may not be suitable for chronically ill patients. Like all forms of surgery, no matter how minimally invasive, the procedure does pose some risk for infection. If appropriate after care protocols are put in place and followed, the risk for infection is minimal. 

Exploratory Laparoscopy Prevention in Dogs

The need for an exploratory laparoscopy cannot always be prevented, as internal problems often are a result of unknown causes. However, foreign body entrapment is a possible need for exploratory laparoscopy and can be prevented by monitoring the dog. Appropriate chew toys and supervised outdoor time will limit the possibility of a foreign body trapped in the gastrointestinal system.