What is Marsupialization?

Marsupialization is a surgical procedure designed to enable the easy draining of cysts. The operation requires the surgeon to cut an incision into the side of the dog's cyst and fold the edges back on themselves before suturing them in position, in much the same manner as when constructing a pocket on an item of clothing. This means that when the wound heals, the hole in the cyst's wall will remain open, enabling easy drainage of the mass and rectifying any adverse symptoms that the dog may have been suffering from beforehand. Although the procedure will enable drainage of that particular cyst, if the problem is caused by a widespread condition then additional treatment may be required.

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Marsupialization Procedure in Dogs

Before starting the procedure, the dog will be placed under general anesthesia and a patch of skin near to the cyst will be shaved and disinfected ready for an incision to be made. The vet will then use an ultrasound machine to determine the exact position of the cyst within the dog before cutting through the skin. Many cysts will occur close to the skin, making the surgery relatively simple, though others may be deeper inside the body, causing the vet to have to use clamps to move aside organs and membranes within the body. Once the cyst is exposed, a scalpel will be used to cut an opening along one side of the growth and the fluid within will be allowed to drain. Next, the vet will fold back the edges of the wound and suture them in place, holding the incision open. At this point, the surgeon may extract their tools and the animal can be sewn back up and allowed to awaken.

Efficacy of Marsupialization in Dogs

Marsupialization is very effective at allowing drainage of areas that were previously retaining fluid to a dangerous degree. Without the procedure, the cyst may grow even larger, putting pressure on the surrounding tissues and even posing a threat of harboring an infection. Some owners may question why the procedure is necessary, given that the vet could alternately remove the cyst altogether. The reason for this is that whilst complete removal would solve the problem in the short term, the drainage problem could resurface again several months later in the form of yet another cyst.

Marsupialization Recovery in Dogs

Following the operation, the dog will require its exercise levels to be restricted for a week or two so that it does not tear open its stitches. This will also help prevent the dog from picking up dirt and debris that could cause an infection of the incision. Additionally, the animal will need regular doses of painkillers for two or so weeks following the operation. The total recovery time can be expected to fall between three and five weeks, dependent on both the location of the cyst and the age of the dog. The vet may also want to book a follow-up appointment to make sure that the dog is healing properly. This will most likely take place in the second week after the procedure.

Cost of Marsupialization in Dogs

The price of having a marsupialization procedure conducted falls within something of a large bracket due to the variety of places within the dog's body that the cyst can be. Typically, patients can expect to pay between $400 and $600, though other factors such as the age of the dog and the availability of surgeons in a given area can affect the price. Unsurprisingly, a cyst removal will cost roughly the same amount, due to the comparable level of work required to perform each procedure. 

Dog Marsupialization Considerations

Whilst marsupialization is a very effective technique, some owners may have worries regarding certain risks associated with the procedure. One of the most common misconceptions is regarding the probability of infection, which is often seen as quite high. Instead, by allowing the fluid to drain from the cyst, the chances of bacteria being able to take root are lessened dramatically. The second worry is regarding the risk of cancer spreading from a ruptured cyst. With a competent diagnosis this is easily avoidable due to the obvious difference between a fluid mass caused by a benign cyst and a solid mass caused by a tumor.

Marsupialization Prevention in Dogs

Whilst it can be difficult to prevent a dog from picking up less evident diseases from other animals that may result in the formation of a cyst, owners can take precautions to eliminate other ways the condition may appear. By keeping a clean and tidy living space for the dog and feeding them fresh food, the chances of them picking up parasites will decrease substantially. Likewise, taking care to remove them from dangerous environments (such as those containing sharp objects and dangerous animals) can prevent the kind of tissue damage that can lead to a cyst appearing.