& Management / Disease
Investigation & Management / Techniques:
- In Europe, this is usually carried out when the ferret is 6 - 9
months old, just before the first oestrus. (B339.9.w9)
- It can be carried out within a month after vulval swelling has
started in the spring. (B232.19.w19)
- In the USA, often ferrets are neutered at just 4-6 weeks of age,
before leaving the breeding farms. (B339.9.w9)
The procedure is basically the same as in cats. (B339.9.w9)
- Make a midline abdominal incision in the skin from just caudal to
the umbilicus, caudally for a few centimetres. (B631.23.w23)
- To minimise the risk of leaving an ovarian remnant, a 3-4 cm
incision is recommended to provide good visualisation during
A 4 cm incision midway between the pubis and the umbilicus. (J15.24.w5)
- Identify the linea alba - a wide thin aponeurosis, semi-transparent
in very young ferrets. (B631.23.w23)
- Grasp the linea alba with forceps or haemostat and elevate it. (B631.23.w23)
- 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.
- Locate the bicornuate, short-bodied uterus, on the dorsal side of
the urinary bladder. (B631.23.w23)
- The uterus is about 4 cm long. (B232.19.w19,
- Gently retract the uterine horns cranially to locate the ovaries. (B631.23.w23)
- These are caudal to the kidneys. (B232.19.w19)
- These lie inside a bursa of fatty tissue, and may be dark. (B631.23.w23)
- Use haemoclips or 1.5 metric (4/0 USP) absorbable monofilament
suture material to ligate the ovarian arteries and uterine arteries. (B631.23.w23)
- Use 3-0 or 4-0 absorbable suture material to ligate the ovarian
- Preferably double-ligate the ovarian pedicle. (B232.19.w19,
- Check carefully that all the ovarian tissue has been removed. (B232.19.w19,
- Suture the cervix just distal to where the two uterine bodies join,
by transverse suturing, transfixing sutures or clipping; if suturing,
2 metric (3/0 USP) absorbable monofilament suture material is
- Use 3-0 or 4-0 absorbable suture material. (B602.12.w12)
- A transfixing ligature reduces the risk of ligature slippage and
uterine artery haemorrhage. (B232.19.w19)
- Close the linea alba using 3-0 or 4-0 absorbable suture material. (B602.12.w12)
e.g. 1.5 or 2.0 metric polyglactin 910. in a simple interrupted
- Close the skin with a subcuticular suture of fine absorbable suture
material e.g. 1.5 or 2.0 metric polyglactin 910. (B232.19.w19)
In cases of pyometra
- Carry out a complete blood count and clotting tests prior to
- Ensure that the uterus is outside of the abdomen and a
laparotomy sponge is placed underneath the uterus, to prevent contamination
with pus in the abdomen. (B602.12.w12)
- Lavage the abdomen once the uterus and sponge has been removed.
|Appropriate Use (?)
- To prevent bone marrow suppression, which occurs with prolonged
oestrous in entire females not allowed to breed. (B339.9.w9)
- Ferrets have a bicornuate uterus with a very short uterine body. The
ovaries, which may be dark, are located within a fatty bursa. (B631.23.w23)
|Complications/ Limitations / Risk
- Incomplete removal of the ovaries is relatively common. (B631.23.w23)
- There is a lot of fat in the mesovarium increasing the risk of an
ovarian remnant being left behind. (B339.9.w9)
- If the uterus is ligated and incised too far cranially (leaving a
remnant of uterus), uterine disease may occur in the stump. (B631.23.w23)
- Early ovariohysterectomy is associated with endocrine abnormalities/neoplasia.
|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)