Think back to when you first learned to perform ovariohysterectomies and neuters. It is probable that you were taught these
procedures early in your surgical education at a time when you had limited surgical skills. Your instructors, therefore, taught
very cautious techniques: double ligating everything, ligating pedicles before you transect, extensive exposure and many other
techniques, to compensate for your lack of skill and experience. Often as people get more experience in surgery their efficiency
improves, but there is a tendency to continue to use the techniques they were originally taught; techniques that were designed
to compensate for lack of experience. The techniques used in high volume spay neuter clinics are safe and much more efficient
that many of the techniques commonly taught in veterinary schools.
When prepping the patient for surgery, clip the hair, vacuum, and then use a lint roller to remove any remaining hair. While
this procedure will not significantly improve efficiency it will almost totally eliminate the frustration of chasing loose
hairs out of your surgical field.
Where does the surgeon stand?
How do you decide where you stand while doing a spay? Do you stand with the patient's head to your right or to your left?
Most right-handed veterinarians stand with the patient's head to their left and most left-handed veterinarians stand with
the patient's head to their right. But why is this? Try standing with the patient's head to the side of your dominant hand.
There is a very valid reason for this. If you strum the suspensory ligament of the ovary this allows you to strum it with
your stronger hand. If you cut the suspensory ligament it allows you to cut the ligament easily with your dominant hand.
Positioning of the patient
In a spay, position the patient with the front legs along it's side rather than pulled forward past it's head. Pulling the
legs forward, which is most commonly done, tightens the muscles of the back and tightens the suspensory ligaments of the ovaries.
Pulling the limbs along side the patient's thorax will relax the suspensory ligaments and make delivery of the ovaries through
an abdominal incision easier. A simple restraint devise allows this positioning of the patient and helps prevent tilting of
the patient to one side or the other.
Placement of the incision
One of the keys to efficient surgeries is making a small incision. While most surgery instructors promote long incisions and
maximum exposure, lengthy incisions are more time consuming to close. Small incisions, obviously, can be closed more rapidly
than long incisions. The proper location of the incision varies with species and with age of the patient. In a cat spay the
tissue that is most difficult to exteriorize is the uterine body. In the adult dog it is more difficult to exteriorize the
ovaries. Puppies are intermediate. In the cat spay the skin incision should be located on the ventral abdominal midline at
the exact midpoint between the umbilicus and the anterior brim of the pubis. In the adult dog, the skin incision is on the
ventral abdominal midline in the cranial third of the distance between the umbilicus and the anterior brim of the pubis. In
the puppy spay (6 months or younger) the skin incision is on the ventral abdominal midline a little cranial to the location
of the cat spay incision and a little caudal to the location of the incision in an adult dog.
Let's look, again, at the adult dog spay. In the adult dog it is most difficult to exteriorize the ovaries. The right kidney
and the right ovary are located further cranial in the abdomen than the left kidney and left ovary. It is, therefore, more
difficult to exterior the right ovary than the left ovary. To equalize the difficulty of exteriorizing the two ovaries make
the entry into the abdomen through a right paramedian incision. You incise the skin on the midline, undermine only on the
right side of the linea alba and, depending on the size of the dog, incise the rectus sheath 1 to 2 cm to the right of the
linea alba. It is important to only incise the fascia. Avoid incising rectus abdominis m. to prevent hemorrhage. Entry into
the abdomen is then accomplished by bluntly separating fibers of the rectus abdominis muscle and cutting the peritoneum.
Castration incisions in the cat, the puppy and in the adult dog can be made through the scrotum.