Performing an ovariectomy in dogs and cats - Veterinary Medicine
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Performing an ovariectomy in dogs and cats
Have you considered performing an ovariectomy in place of an ovariohysterectomy? If you are hesitant to perform this surgery, here is a straightforward how-to so you can add this technique to your clinical toolbox.



The midline incision for an ovariectomy is typically short and focused on the ovaries, while an ovariohysterectomy incision is usually a compromise attempting to provide exposure to the entire length of the internal reproductive tract. A shorter incision may reduce the chance of dehiscence and other wound complications. And since ovariectomy is limited to the ovarian region, the chances of damaging ureters distally near the uterine body should be nonexistent.1 Ovariectomy should not pose the risk of vesicovaginal or ureterovaginal fistula, which has been associated with ovariohysterectomy.26,27

Although an ovariectomy should be faster to perform than an ovariohysterectomy in the hands of an experienced surgeon, that was not found in one study.28 However, this study used an ovariohysterectomy technique in which electrosurgery was used and the broad ligaments were not ligated, which may have increased the time efficiency of the ovariohysterectomy since there would only be three major ligations as opposed to four major ligations in the ovariectomy.

In the procedures detailed earlier, ligation and transection through the tip of the uterine horn caudal to the proper ligament were described. Some authors specify that ligation and transection should be located through the proper ligament and not through the uterine tip.16,25 By not entering the lumen of the uterus, the possibility of vaginal bleeding is eliminated.1 It has similarly been claimed that ovariectomy through the proper ligament precludes stump granulomas.1 However, the proper ligament is quite short, and, especially in bitches, the mesosalpinx, mesovarium, and broad ligament may contain substantial fat that renders it difficult to ligate and transect accurately through the proper ligament while avoiding the fat-obscured ovary. Nevertheless, stump granulomas at the uterine horn tip in ovariectomies have not been described.1

Stump pyometras cannot occur in an ovariectomized animal.1 However, an ovarian remnant in an ovariectomized animal could result in pyometra.

In dogs with mammary cancer, a midline or flank ovariectomy may be preferred over an ovariohysterectomy because of its smaller incision, which is less likely to complicate concurrent mammary lump excisions. Cats with mammary hyperplasia may be treated by ovariectomy through a flank incision to minimize the risk of hemorrhage that would be incurred by a midline approach.

Since an ovariectomy is less invasive1,19 and requires less excision and ligation of tissues than an ovariohysterectomy does, it may result in less incision complications and pain. However, that was not found experimentally in one prospective study.28


Ovariectomy and ovariohysterectomy are equally effective in preventing reproduction and reducing the risk of mammary cancer. Ovariectomy and ovariohysterectomy share many of the same indications, but ovariectomy may be simpler and quicker to perform. And the less invasive procedure may result in less discomfort and less likelihood of complications. As a result, in young animals with normal uteri, ovariectomy may be preferred over ovariohysterectomy. With experience, veterinarians should encounter little difficulty in adopting a form of this procedure.

Eric E. Ehrhardt, DVM, MS
Fruit Valley Veterinary Clinic
7100 State Route 104
Oswego, NY 13126


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