Minimally Invasive Laparoscopic Spay

A message from Harley’s owner, Alycia Fogle:

This past June, a colleague of mine at UNC Asheville found a beagle running down the middle of the road looking scared and confused. After taking the dog to a local vet, it was determined the dog had been abused, was vastly malnourished, and around 8 years of age. My colleague sent an email out through the UNCA system asking for someone to foster the dog. As a lover of hound dogs (I had a beloved Bloodhound), I agreed to foster her while she found her forever home. However, one day into 'fostering' her, I fell in love with my beagle and officially made her a home. We named her Harley (i.e., Harley Davidson); after all she was a little rough around the edges when we got her. Harley has settled into home life quickly and is enamored with Spanky, my 15-year-old Jack Russell. She is reliving her puppyhood at age 8- my backyard has become a graveyard for all her toys! She digs and hides everything she receives (even food treats), and transfers it all around the yard at least once a week. It’s a constant defensive line trying to block the newest toy from its unfortunate backyard burial. Thank you to the Animal Hospital of North Asheville who helped Harley get healthy as she adjusts into her new home life.

Dr. Paul Duncan recounts his experience with Harley:

When Harley first came in to see us at Animal Hospital of North Asheville, she was in the midst of her heat cycle, and because dogs in heat have a higher bleeding risk due to their estrogen levels, we had to wait before proceeding with her spay. A few weeks later Harley was fortunate enough to have her spay done laparoscopically.

She came into the hospital the morning of her surgery wagging her tail and as happy as always except for being slightly unhappy that she did not get breakfast. Harley was very glad to hear that she would have her spay done laparoscopically because she knew that this would be less invasive, require less healing time, and be less painful.  In addition, there is a lower incidence of bleeding after surgery, the incisions are smaller and, most importantly, Harley would be able to go home with mom that same day and sleep in her own bed that night.

Animal Hospital of North Asheville may be the only animal hospital in Western North Carolina that offers minimally invasive laparoscopic spays. Instead of a large incision, two small incisions are made into the abdomen and a special camera is used to visualize the organs in the abdomen and locate the ovaries. We then use a very special piece of equipment called an Ultracision Harmonic Scalpel, which simultaneously cuts and coagulates, to painlessly and safely remove the ovaries. Harley did wonderfully and her surgery went very smoothly. She was sitting up happily in her bed one hour after surgery, and all of us just knew she was looking forward to going home to see mom and having a good dinner.

We are thrilled that Harley has found her forever home and was able to benefit from this unique opportunity of having laparoscopic surgery. In addition to spays, we are able to perform laparocoscopic organ biopsies, exploratory surgeries, gastropexy (stomach tacking) and rhinoscopy (examination of the sinuses) to name a few. This is an expanding field of veterinary medicine that we are excited to have brought to the pets of Asheville in 2006!


Are only the ovaries removed, or the uterus also? If not the uterus, doesn't that leave the risk of pyometra the same?

That is a very astute and logical question. Good thinking on your part! Laparoscopic spays can include removal of the uterus, but it is not always necessary. Dogs and cats that are spayed before their first heat cycle have not had their reproductive system activated. Removal of the ovaries results in removal of the hormones that would cyclically stimulate the uterus, so the uterus remains inactive and is not prone to infection as occurs in pyometra. Studies show that there is not a statistical difference in the occurrence of pyometra in dogs that have had just the ovaries removed when compared with dogs that have had both the uterus and ovaries removed.