Ocean State Veterinary Specialists

Minimally Invasive Surgery For Animals

Minimally Invasive Surgery Services at Ocean State Veterinary Specialists

Minimally invasive surgeries are procedures that utilize a small video camera within a long sterile tube. The camera can be inserted through a small skin incision and into a body cavity, such as the abdomen (laparoscopy), chest (thoracoscopy), or a joint (arthroscopy). The image obtained by the camera is displayed on a video monitor. This allows the surgeon to visualize the interior of the body cavity. Specialized surgical equipment can be introduced through tiny incisions as well, and the surgeon can watch the monitor and manipulate these instruments to perform various procedures.

Laparoscopy and Thoracoscopy

In human medicine, minimally invasive surgical techniques are utilized for many common surgeries and are preferred because of the reduced post-operative pain and rapid recovery times they allow. In veterinary medicine, most major abdominal and thoracic surgeries are performed using standard surgical approaches, but there are many procedures that can be done safely and effectively using minimally invasive methods.

These might include:

  • Biopsies of internal organs—Obtaining a biopsy using laparoscopy allows the surgeon to visualize the abnormal organ or abdominal mass and biopsy the most abnormal area. This increases the chances of getting an accurate diagnosis. The surgeon can also monitor the biopsy site for bleeding and address this as needed.
  • Gastropexy—Some large breed dogs are at risk for a twisted stomach (gastric dilatation and volvulus, or GDV), which is a life-threatening emergency. Using laparoscopy, the stomach can be stitched to the body wall to prevent it from being able to rotate. Some dog owners choose to have this performed in high-risk dogs, especially if it can be combined with a spay.
  • Ovariohysterectomy/ovariectomy (spay)—These routine procedures can be performed using laparoscopy.
  • Chest surgeries including partial lung lobe removal (generally due to tumors) and pericardectomy (removal of the sac surrounding the heart if it is diseased).


The use of the arthroscope allows the surgeon to visualize the inside of a joint without opening the joint up completely. Abnormalities that can be detected include:

  • Ruptured ligament or meniscus
  • Cartilage flap associated with Osteochondrosis dessicans
  • A small bone fragment that may have fractured into the joint

These damaged tissues can cause pain and lameness and need to be removed to provide comfort and full mobility for the patient. Arthroscopy allows the introduction of surgical instruments, guided by the video scope, which can be used to clean up the joint surfaces. The surgeon can also use the arthroscope to fully evaluate the joint to determine the best surgical plan and prognosis for various abnormalities.

What Are the Benefits of Laparoscopic and Arthroscopic Surgery?

  • Smaller incisions
  • Reduced pain
  • Faster recovery time and shorter hospitalization
  • Reduced blood loss
  • Shortened anesthesia time
  • Better biopsy samples than needle aspirates or tru-cut biopsies
  • Reduced scar formation

Do You Have Additional Questions?

Please call Ocean State Veterinary Specialists to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified surgeons who has received additional training in this specialized area of veterinary surgery.