Caesarean Section in Rabbits (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords --

Caesarean section - standard (B601.17.w17, B615.8.w8)

  • Exteriorise the reproductive tract.
  • Isolate the reproductive tract from the abdomen.
  • Choose one uterine horn and make an incision over a fetus.
    • Incise centrally on the horn. (B615.8.w8)
    • Take care not to cut the fetus.
  • Exteriorise the placenta and fetus.
  • Rupture the placenta.
  • Clamp and cut the umbilicus.
  • Hand the kit to an assistant to care for:
    • Rub the kit with a towel to (a) dry it; (b) stimulate it to breath.
    • Remove fetal fluids from the nostrils and mouth.
  • Manoeuvre each kit in that uterine horn to the initial uterine incision and repeat.
  • Repeat for the other uterine horn (if kits are present). 
  • Either:
    • 1) Carry out an ovariohysterectomy. (see: Ovariohysterectomy of Rabbits (Techniques))
      • This is advised as it will prevent future pregnancies and potential repeat dystocia. (B601.17.w17, B615.8.w8)
    • OR 2) Suture the incision in each uterine horn in a double layer closure, the first layer being a simple continuous suture, and the the second in an inverting pattern. (B601.17.w17)
      • OR with a single inverting pattern suture. (B615.8.w8)
      • Use a fine absorbable synthetic monofilament suture material.
  • Close the abdomen.

En bloc technique - alternative (B601.17.w17)

  • Exteriorise the reproductive tract.
  • Isolate the reproductive tract from the abdomen.
  • Place two clamps on each ovarian pedicle.
  • Place two clamps on the vaginal pedicle.
  • Cut in between the clamps to remove the uterus intact.
  • Hand the uterus to an assistant.
    • The assistant delivers the kits and resuscitates them.
    • This must be carried out quickly if the kits are viable.
    • Ligate the pedicles.
    • Close the abdomen.
  • Ligate the pedicles.
  • Close the abdomen.
Appropriate Use (?)
  • Dystocia or uterine inertia. (B601.17.w17, B615.8.w8)
    • Delivery of a litter usually takes only about an hour. (B601.17.w17)
    • Delivery of the litter taking longer than an hour, prolonged straining by the doe, or palpation of a kit still inside the reproductive tract more than an hour after the start of parturition suggests the possibility of dystocia or uterine inertia. (B601.17.w17)
Notes --
Complications/ Limitations / Risk --
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Standard anaesthetic equipment for rabbits.

  • Surgical equipment appropriate for rabbits.

  • Suture materials.

Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • 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 Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referee Molly Varga BVetMed DZooMed MRCVS (V.w125)
References B601.17.w17, B615.8.w8

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