Rodents: soft tissue surgery

image of Rodents: soft tissue surgery
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Surgical magnification is very important because of the small patient size. Loss of relatively small volumes of blood can have serious consequences, including death. It is often not feasible to intubate them for anaesthesia and vital signs routinely monitored in larger patients (such as blood pressure and oxygen tension) often cannot be evaluated accurately in these small pets. Common conditions and techniques are detailed, such as Gonadectomy/neutering; Uterine diseases; Mammary glands; Enucleation and exenteration; Cystotomy; Tail degloving; and Everted cheek pouch.

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7.1 The Surgitel system is designed to minimize stress on the surgeon’s neck. (Photograph reproduced with kind permission of General Scientific Corporation Inc., Ann Arbor, MI, USA.)
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7.2 Microsurgical instruments should balance in the surgeon’s hand much like a pen does. If they must be gripped, the hand will fatigue and tremor will result.
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7.3 Movement of instruments during magnification surgery is through rolling the instrument between the thumb and forefinger. The hand should rest firmly on the table.
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7.4 Three microsurgical instruments are recommended for a basic set: (from top) micro-forceps, micro-scissors and micro-needle holders.
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7.5 The Bennett Avian Cross Action retractor is small and is opened and held open by a ratchet mechanism. The Alm retractor opens and is held open by a thumbscrew.
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7.6 The Lone Star Retractor is completely autoclavable and consists of a plastic ring with slots into which the elastic bands of the stay hooks are inserted as shown. It is useful for patients of any size as the tension is adjusted before the bands are inserted into the slots.
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7.7 Ophthalmic bulb syringes are very useful for irrigation in small rodent patients. A nasolacrimal cannula or, as shown, an avian gavage feeding tube is attached to direct the irrigation solution.
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7.9 The Surgitron Dual Frequency radiosurgical unit emits radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation that cuts tissues and coagulates vessels. It causes very little collateral heat damage. (Photograph reproduced with kind permission of Ellman International, Inc., Oceanside, NY, USA.)
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7.10 Orchidectomy in a chinchilla. The testicles are located in the inguinal region, one on each side of the penis. An incision is made in the scrotum, allowing the testicle to be exteriorized. For an open castration, the ligament of the tail of the epididymis (arrowed) must be carefully detached from the tunic. (E = epididymis; F = fat). In this patient the ductus deferens and pampiniform plexus were ligated individually.
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7.11 Orchidectomy in a rat. The testicles are located caudally. A single incision is made transversely, allowing both testicles to be exteriorized. Note the epididymal fat (arrowed) that, when left within the tunic, helps to block the inguinal canal and minimizes the risk of herniation. When performing a closed castration it is best to leave this fat within the tunic, proximal to the ligature. (b,c, reproduced from with kind permission from Elsevier.)
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7.12 Ovariohysterectomy in a guinea pig. A single or double encircling ligature is generally all that is required on the uterine body due to its small size. The uterus has a linear configuration. This animal had cystic ovaries. The uterine and ovarian ligaments show abundant fat. Rodents do have a uterine body. For ovariohysterectomy the broad ligament is torn caudally to the body of the uterus, being careful not to tear the uterine vessels. The procedure is repeated on the contralateral side. (Courtesy of Krystan Grant.)
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7.13 To perform an ovariectomy in a rat, a single incision is made across the back at the third lumbar vertebra. The incision is shifted from side to side and a haemostat is used to bluntly enter the abdomen to retrieve the ovary. The ovarian pedicle can be ligated or a Hemoclip applied as shown.
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7.14 This guinea pig presented the morning after parturition for uterine prolapse. The prolapse was reduced and an ovariohysterectomy was performed. Postoperative incision following ovariohysterectomy.
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7.15 Mammary tumours in rats are usually benign but can reach large proportions. Skin staples offer a rapid method for closing skin in a single layer, shortening the surgery time.
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7.16 Many rodents tolerate a yoke (such as the one on this prairie dog) better than an Elizabethan collar.
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