Using minimally invasive approaches to joints has been established for decades. Better lighting technology has made this technique available to the equine abdomen over the past 15 years. Good illumination is the key to this technology becoming an alternate diagnostic route to many abdominal conditions.
Laparoscopy, or examining the abdomen using a minimally invasive camera technology, can be used to view the intestinal tract, even taking biopsies of most abdominal structures. This technique is also commonly employed for reproductive procedures. Retained testicles can be removed laparoscopically, most of the time without the need for general anesthesia (depending on the patient’s temperament and demeanor).
Same goes for ovaries and ovarian tumors. Also, elevating the heavy uterus in elderly mares has proven efficient and is currently used to improve uterine clearance and pregnancy rates in mare that benefit from the “uteropexy” procedure.
Laparoscopy can be used for advanced abdominal surgeries in younger horses and foals such as working on infected umbilical structures or finding and visualizing abscesses.
Nephrosplenic space closure has become a routine technique to prevent recurrent displacement and incarceration of the large intestine in the nephrosplenic space which leads to colic. Same laparoscopic closure can be done for the inguinal rings to prevent intestines slipping into the vaginal rings of stallions and, less commonly, geldings.
Laparoscopy and Other Abdominal Conditions
In case of rectal injuries, laparoscopy helps defining the degree of a tear, the degree of abdominal contamination and even the possibility of direct suture closure of the these injuries increasing the survival rate for these cases.
Abdominal body wall injuries (hernias) can be judged, measured and closed through laparoscopic mesh techniques.
Generally speaking, laparoscopy is not the “one shoe fits all” to the equine abdomen. However, it has allowed us to approach the horse’s abdomen in a different way, minimally invasive and often without the need for open abdominal approaches.
This surgical technique does not replace “colic surgery”. In case of severe abdominal discomfort, open laparotomy is still the way to go.
In above mentioned diseases however, it may be the less invasive route for your horse. If you would like more information on this procedure, please contact us via email at CESH@purdue.edu or call us at 317-398-1980 and we will be happy to assist you.