Soft Tissue Surgery

Soft Tissue Surgery refers to surgery of the muscles, soft tissues, including internal organs and skin, and indeed most surgeries that do not primarily involve bones (orthopaedics), the nervous system (neurology) or the eyes (ophthalmology).

This makes it a very interesting area as it covers a wide variety of procedures ranging from tumour removal to chest surgery, from ear surgery to abdominal procedures. Examples of different types of soft tissue surgery are listed below but we perform many more than just these examples.

Examples of soft tissue surgery procedures we perform on both cats and dogs at Granta Veterinary Specialists:

  1. Tumour removal from any area of the body (including body organs and the skin). This type of soft tissue surgery is part of oncology (cancer treatment)
  2. Airway surgery ranging from brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) treatment, laryngeal paralysis, tracheal, lung and chest surgery
  3. Abdominal surgery and managing conditions such as urinary tract obstructions, congenital portosystemic (liver) shunts, intestinal surgery such as foreign bodies or tumours, gastric dilation and torsion, liver and biliary surgery, and kidney surgery.
  4. Thoracic surgery ranging from lungs to infections within the chest cavity (pyothorax or abscesses), some congenital heart conditions and conditions affecting the chest wall.
  5. Trauma surgery as trauma can affect many body systems in cats and dogs. Surgery is commonly required as part of the general management after stabilisation. This may involve the management of wounds, acute stick injuries, repair of body wall ruptures or chest wall defects, bladder ruptures or bleeding within the abdomen as examples.
If my pet is referred for soft tissue surgery does this mean they will definitely have surgery and have to stay?

In most cases, before your pet is referred to soft tissue surgery we have already had discussions and correspondence with your vet so we often have a good idea of your pet’s problem and have made the decision with your vet that a soft tissue consultation would be beneficial. This means that once we have assessed your pet there is a high likelihood we will advise on further investigations and surgery if we feel this is the very best way forward for you both. These procedures can usually be carried out within 48 hours of admission.

We also understand that making a decision for surgery can be stressful and hard, and although we will help you through this decision-making process we also empathise if you feel it is more appropriate to schedule surgery for another time. Rest assured we will discuss every available option with you and come to a decision together and if you decide that surgery just does not feel right for you we will do our very best to recommend other options if these are in your pet’s best interest.

Who will be performing the surgery on my pet?

At Granta Veterinary Specialists, Jackie Demetriou and Jane Ladlow are the two Soft Tissue Surgeons that will be operating on your pet. This means that you have certainty that the surgery will be carried out by either or in some cases both specialists.

Jackie and Jane have been specialists in Small Animal Surgery for more than twenty years – obtaining specialist qualifications in the same year and sat specialist surgery exams at the same time. As a smaller team, they work very closely together, with knowledge on each other’s cases. This means that solutions and decision making is shared not just between them, but with the wider team with the expectation that the very best outcomes are achieved for our patients.

Who else will be involved in my pet’s care?

We have a really wonderful and dedicated team of experienced vets, nurses and nursing assistants, both during the day and at night to help care for your pet, who are used to managing complex soft tissue surgical cases. You will probably get to meet or hear from them during your pet’s stay and often these are the people who know the intricate details about your pet during their stay. At Granta Veterinary Specialists, caring for your pet really is a team effort so we can give your pet the best possible specialist care during their stay with us and beyond.

Do you do keyhole or minimally invasive surgery at Granta Veterinary Specialists?

Keyhole or minimally invasive surgery is gaining popularity in veterinary surgery because like in humans, there have been some reported benefits such as reduced pain and faster recovery times. Minimally invasive surgery comes in many forms from keyhole surgery to interventional radiology whereby moving xrays (fluoroscopy) is used to deliver drugs, close off vessels or treat some congenital urinary conditions. Some examples of the use of keyhole and minimally invasive surgery are listed below and at Granta Veterinary Specialists we would be very happy to discuss these options with you and / or your vet and evaluate whether they would benefit your pet rather than conventional “open” surgical approaches.

  1. Laparoscopic spay, which technically is removal of your dog’s ovaries
  2. Cryptorchid castration, which is a technique that uses keyhole surgery to locate and help remove a testicle that has not descended properly from the abdomen
  3. Liver and pancreas biopsies
  4. Gastropexy, to reduce the risk of gastric dilatation and torsion in breeds at risk
  5. Portosystemic (liver) shunts can sometimes be managed using interventional radiology
  6. Ectopic ureters causing urinary incontinence can sometimes be managed using laser treatment instead of open surgery
  7. LATE treatment for BOAS cases (see BOAS section)
Why does my pet have to stay overnight after surgery with you?

In most cases, depending on the procedure, your pet will stay with us after surgery overnight. This might be for one night or several nights depending on the condition and the progress your pet is making and we will try our best to give you an approximate stay length after your consultation, although understandably sometimes this might vary. The reasons why we advise at least one overnight stay are varied but relate most often to monitoring your pet closely in recovery, pain management, ensuring that your pet can eat and that the recovery is manageable at home once we have discharged them.

What should I expect when my pet comes back home?

We hope that by the time your pet is ready to be discharged, their aftercare should be quite straightforward. In most cases good old-fashioned TLC is what is needed once they come home: plenty of rest, calm reassurance, and making them feel they are returning to an environment they are used to and love. We will advise you on specific instructions at the time of discharge so we always book a discharge appointment with you so that we can discuss aftercare with you and any questions. We never consider the discharge as the end of our relationship and would encourage continued communication, especially if recovery is not what you are expecting or have concerns.

What if my pet has complications after surgery?

It can be a stressful time when complications occur, and we feel disappointed just as much as you would do if they do occur during or after surgery in your pet. However, surgery is never an exact science and pets do not always recover with the same degree of speed or consistency as each other so unfortunately complications can occur.

At your consultation we will go through the more common complications that may occur with each procedure so you understand the implications before agreeing to surgery. If any do occur whilst your pet is in hospital, we aim to let you know as soon as possible so we can discuss the best way forward and therefore make joint decisions in your pet’s best interest.

If complications occur following discharge, hopefully an even rarer occurrence, we would ask that you let us know as soon as possible so that we can advise you directly. Depending on the severity and urgency of the complication, possible outcomes may be that we can advise over telephone or email, liaise with your own vet or ask that you bring your pet back to see us. We will never ignore your concerns because we know that the quicker we recognise when something is not right, the better the chance of managing the complication optimally.