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Cairns Vet Overview on Exploratory Laparotomy Surgery in Pets

What exactly is an exploratory laparotomy and why would my pet need one? Cairns vet Dr Owen Lavers explains more about this important surgical procedure: An exploratory laparotomy is where the pet is anaesthetised and the vet surgeon opens up the abdominal cavity to make or confirm a diagnosis. This procedure allows each abdominal organ to be thoroughly visualised by the surgeon and surgical correction or biopsies can be taken at the time. While diagnostic investigation into a pets illness generally starts with blood testing, x-rays and ultrasound, sometimes a more aggressive diagnostic approach is required, particularly if the diagnosis is still unclear after the other less invasive diagnostic procedures have been carried out. Owners are often frightened to put their beloved pet under a general anaesthetic, particularly if the pet is unwell, but sometimes it is necessary to make a decision that will answer questions so that the veterinarian can properly treat the problem. Exploratory laparotomies are never a waste of time. If there are no gross abnormalities detected, multiple organ biopsies can be taken in order to pursue a diagnosis and to check whether there is any abnormal pathology going on. An example is liver disease. An animal could have an abnormal liver on ultrasound, but to differentiate between cancerous conditions like lymphoma and a less sinister cause, a liver biopsy is required, states the Cairns vet. Recently the Earlville Vet Cairns surgery had a dog called Banjo that came in with protracted vomiting and he was getting very unwell. There were no abnormalities on the x-rays but the vomiting persisted despite anti-vomiting drugs and a decision to do an exploratory laparotomy was made. In this case, Banjo was very lucky as he had a string foreign body extending from his stomach into the small intestine, causing the intestines to bunch together like a telescopic. This could have been fatal, but luckily the surgeon was able to remove the string before any permanent damage.

Luckily for Banjo, the owners agreed to have an exploratory laparotomy for their dog. This enabled the vet to quickly reach a diagnosis and the problem could be corrected at the same time. String does not always show up on x-rays and so in this case, an exploratory laparotomy was a life-saver, the Balaclava vet remarked. For other interesting cases, check out our Cairns vet blog by clicking the following link: http://www.earlvillevetsurgery.com.au/salivary-gland-removal/ or call to make an appointment on (07) 4054 1755.