Urethrostomy of Ferrets (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information

Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords  
  • Anaesthetise the ferret. (B631.23.w23)
  • Place the ferret in ventral recumbency, or in dorsal recumbency with the pelvic area elevated. (B631.23.w23)
  • If possible, pass a urinary catheter. (B602.12.w12, B631.23.w23, J29.11.w2) See Urethral Catheterization in Ferrets (Techniques)
  • Choose the site for the urethrostomy: caudal to the os penis and proximal (caudal) to the obstruction site, ventral to the anus (usually a few cm ventral to the anus). (B602.12.w12, B631.23.w23)
  • Aseptically prepare the caudal abdomen and perineal area. (B602.12.w12)
  • Incise longitudinally directly over the urethra, 1-2 cm ventral to the anus. (B631.23.w23); 1 cm distal to the anus. (B602.12.w12) with the incision 1-1.5 cm long. (J29.11.w2)
  • Palpate the urinary catheter (if one has been placed) as a landmark. (B602.12.w12, J29.11.w2)
  • Place a stay suture through the urethral mucosa and the skin. (J29.11.w2)
  • Using a combination of blunt and sharp dissection, dissect down to the urethra and isolate this. (B631.23.w23)
  • Incise the ventral midline of the urethra. (B631.23.w23)
    • Take care not to incise the cavernous, well vascularised tissue (corpus spongiosum) lateral to the urethra. (B631.23.w23, J29.11.w2)
  • Enlarge the urethral incision. (B631.23.w23)
    • Make a 1cm long incision. (B602.12.w12, J29.11.w2)
    • Note: Healing will reduce the size of the urethrostomy site by as much as 50%. (B631.23.w23)
  • Place a larger urinary catheter, running proximally from the incision. (B602.12.w12)
    • This assists in locating the urethral mucosa and lumen. (B602.12.w12)
    • Drain the bladder. (J29.11.w2)
  • Using 1 metric (5/0 USP) or finer (6-0 USP) suture material, suture the urethral mucosa to the skin. (B631.23.w23)
    • Use a synthetic absorbable monofilament suture material. (B602.12.w12)
    • Use synthetic nonabsorbable 5-0 or 6-0 suture material. (J29.11.w2)
    • Absorbable or nonabsorbable suture material can be used. (B631.23.w23)
  • Check the patency of the surgical site by expressing the bladder. (J29.11.w2)
  • Consider placing a urinary catheter to assist in maintaining the stoma. (B631.23.w23)
  • Give post-operative analgesia, antibiotocs and if necessar, fluids. (J29.11.w2)
  • Consider placing an Elizabethan collar on the ferret to protect the surgical site. (B631.23.w23)
    • Use an Elizabethan collar if needed. (B602.12.w12)
  • Restrict the ferret's activity for two weeks. (B602.12.w12)
  • Remove non-absorbable sutures (if these have been used) about 14 days post surgery. (B631.23.w23, J29.11.w2)
    • Absorbable sutures can be removed after 14 days if possible, or left to dissolve. (B602.12.w12)
Appropriate Use (?)
  • In male ferrets, in the treatment of urethral obstruction secondary to recurrent urolithiasis or associated with paraurethral cysts secondary to adrenal disease. (B602.12.w12, B631.23.w23)
  • In the treatment of neoplasia. (B602.12.w12)
  • When an obstruction in the distal urethra cannot be resolved. (J29.11.w2)
  • Magnification with a surgical loupe is useful. (B602.12.w12)
  • There is rarely a problem with stricture formation in the ferret following this procedure. (J29.11.w2)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk --
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Standard anaesthetic equipment

  • Surgical equipment.

  • Fine (1 metric i.e. 5/0 USP, or finer) suture materials.


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 experience.
Cost/ Availability

The costs of a surgical operation include those associated with: (J15.30.w1)

  • Pre-operative diagnostics (e.g. radiography, ultrasonography, blood tests)
  • Anaesthesia.
  • 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).
Author Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
References B602.12.w12, B631.23.w23, J29.11.w2

Return to Top of Page