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My dog was recently sick with a liver problem and my vet said she might need a liver biopsy.  I had liver problems caused by gallstones and needed my gall bladder removed.  The surgery was done with tiny incisions and a camera.  Is this done in dogs?

Laparoscopy, also known as minimally invasive surgery, has been performed in people for decades.  Veterinarians are becoming much more proficient at this in the last decade.  Currently, more and more surgeries can be done in dogs and cats with small (1/4 inch) incisions.  Usually these procedures are performed by a specially trained veterinary surgeon.  A small (5 millimeter) camera is placed into the belly to see the organs, and then one or more small incisions are made to allow access for instruments.  The advantages of laparoscopic surgery include smaller incisions, less pain, quicker recovery, and shorter time spent in the hospital.

For liver problems, your veterinarian will need to perform some blood tests to check on liver values and will likely want to do an ultrasound of the belly to get a picture of what is going on with the liver before a biopsy is recommended.  Liver biopsies have been performed in dogs with laparoscopy since the 1970s.  The patient must have general anesthesia for this procedure.  The whole process takes about 20 minutes in which tiny pieces of the liver are taken to arrive at a diagnosis.  The dog or cat can often go home the same day with two little incisions in the belly.  Oftentimes, the surgeon can get pictures or video of the procedure if you ask.  Other surgeries, such as removing gall bladders, removing small tumors, getting stomach or intestinal samples, or spaying are possible nowadays with animal laparoscopy.  Please speak to your veterinarian about your pet and ask where the nearest small animal laparoscopic surgeon is located.

            [doctor name = “Jonathan Miller”]