& Management / Disease
Investigation & Management / Techniques:
||Entering the abdomen
- Incise the skin in the central midline from the xyphoid to the pubic
area (for exploratory laparotomy) - usually stopping just cranial to
the prepuce in males. (B631.23.w23)
- A shorter skin incision can be made if the area of interest is
know more precisely. (B631.23.w23)
- The skin is quite thin but the subcuticutar tissues are
relatively thick. (B232.19.w19)
- Identify the linea alba - a wide thin aponeurosis, semi-transparent
in very young ferrets. (B631.23.w23)
- This is well defined. (B232.19.w19)
- Grasp the linea alba with forceps or haemostat, at the level of the
umbilcal scar and elevate it.
- Using the tip of a scalpel blade, make a small incision in the
raised linea alba. (B631.23.w23)
- Continuing to raise the linea alba with haemostats, use rounded-tip
scissors to extend the incision cranially and caudally.
- Take care not to incise the diaphragm while extending the
incision cranially - remember that the thorax is long. (B232.19.w19,
- Incision of the diaphragm will result in pneumothorax, which
can be life-threatening. (B232.19.w19,
- Place a retractor such as the Lone Star Retractor to maximise
visualisation of, and access to, the abdominal cavity. (B631.23.w23)
- Note: there is often a substantial amount of fat in the
After the surgical procedure
- Suture the abdominal wall in an interrupted pattern using 2-3 metric
(3/0 or 2/0 USP) monofilament absorbable suture material such as
polydioxanone (PDS) or polyglecaprone (Monocryl).
- A large number of single sutures improves pressure distirbution
over the suture line. (B631.23.w23)
- Use suture material which is as small as possible. (B631.23.w23)
- Use of a continuous suture is not recommended, due to the active
behaviour of ferrets and the length of the incision. (B631.23.w23)
- Either close the skin with an intradermal suture, 1.5 - 1
metric (4/0 or 5/0 USP) absorbable monofilament in a continuous
- Subcuticular suture with a fine absorbable suture material is
- OR suture the skin with interrupted sutures using a
non-absorbable 2 metric (3/0 USP) suture material suh as nylon or
|Appropriate Use (?)
- Exploratory laparotomy is useful in the diagnosis of many diseases.
- Serosanguinous discharge is common following laparotomy, especially
after prolonged procedures, but is self-limiting. (B232.19.w19,
|Complications/ Limitations / Risk
- Wide areas of echymoses are commonly noted on the abdominal skin by
24-48 hours after laparotomy, but this usually clears within a few
- Ferrets are likely to chew sutures if the sutures are uncomfortable.
|Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
|Expertise level / Ease of Use
||This is a surgical technique.
This procedure should only be
carried out by an individual with appropriate clinical training and practical
The costs of a surgical operation include those associated with: (J15.30.w1)
- Pre-operative diagnostics (e.g. radiography, ultrasonography, blood
- Perioperative medication (e.g. analgesics, antibiotics, fluids).
- Surgical preparation (of the operating theatre and the patient,
including staff time).
- Consumables and equipment.
- Time of the surgeon and assistant(s).
- Post-operative hospitalisation.
|Legal and Ethical Considerations
||In some countries there may be
legislation restricting the use of this type of technique to licensed veterinarians. For
example in the UK: "The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides,
subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of
Veterinary Surgeons may practice veterinary surgery." (See: LCofC1
- RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Treatment of
Animals by Non-Veterinary Surgeons).
||Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)