There are many procedures that we perform that are usually straightforward and commonly referred to as ‘routine’ including spays, neuters, dental cleanings and the like. We do our best to make sure that we try to find and address any complications prior to the procedure with pre-anesthetic blood work and ECG cardiac checks. Also, every pet is examined the morning of the surgery to ensure no new things have come up and make sure every pet is fasted to prevent the risk of vomiting on the pain medications.
This was definitely the case of a dog that we have seen recently for her ‘routine’ spay, her blood work and heart looked great on testing and she was happy and healthy as a puppy can be. She was stable for her general anesthesia during the procedure with no concerns. During the spay itself, she had a normal right ovary and uterus but noted that the left side was NOT there even after careful inspection of the entire abdominal cavity. This is a rare condition called Uterine Unicornis that can occur where one side of the uterus never developed. Despite this, the rest of the surgery went well and she has recovered beautifully.
Common complications that can occur even despite the above precautions:
- bleeding – in any procedure but particular in case of spays we will delay the spay if a heat has been recent
- infection – aseptic/sterile technique is always used but hard to 100% prevent completely
- dehiscence – or break down of an incision site, commonly caused by self-trauma of a pet licking at the incision site, best prevented with head cones or T-shirts, bathing and swimming also break down sutures faster and should always be avoided post operatively
- suture reactions – can never predict this, some pets are just more stimulated by foreign material including sutures
- general anesthesia – common concern by many, we adjust the drugs we use depending on age, any changes on blood work and EGC, etc, but some can be idiopathic (unpredictable), we ensure that a Registered Veterinary Technician is keeping a careful watch on the pet throughout anesthesia and monitor the pets Blood pressure, ECG, temperature, carbon dioxide, etc to ensure they are stable throughout the procedure
- other – seroma (fluid pocket under the skin), anatomical variation (like our girl above), etc
Although complications are present for every procedure, we consider these factors whenever recommending any procedure especially when the benefit of the procedure, whether spays or dental cleanings, outweigh these potential risks. We are always happy to go over any concerns to ensure that every owner to fully aware and comfortable to proceed with the ‘routine.’