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Pet Specialists of Monterey

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS), the standard in human medicine, is now available for pets. The MIS program at Pet Specialists of Monterey includes evaluation and surgery of the joints (arthroscopy), the chest (thoracoscopy), and the abdomen (laparoscopy).

There are numerous benefits to using minimally invasive surgical techniques. They include:

  • Improved visualization through the use of high definition digital cameras
  • Decreased pain from smaller incisions (often less than 0.5cm)
  • Short post-operative recovery
  • Often same-day release from the hospital

Arthroscopy (Joint Surgery)


Arthroscopy has improved the ability to evaluate joint surfaces. Historically, visualization has been restricted by the joint anatomy and the size of the incision. The use of miniature camera lenses in arthroscopy allows for thorough exploration through a small incision (2–3mm).

This surgical procedure is less painful than an open incision into the joint. In addition, healing time is significantly shorter. In fact, pets with elbow or shoulder disease are often treated and released the same day—without the need for an overnight stay at the hospital.

Arthroscopy can be used in combination with other surgical procedures, such as Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO), to treat meniscal disease and diagnose cartilage and ligament health.

Commonly treated conditions include:

  • Fragmented Coronoid Process (FCP)
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
  • Osteoarthritis (OA)
  • Biceps bursitis
  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture (CCLR)

Laparoscopy (Abdominal Exploratory Surgery)

Laparoscopy offers increased visualization and exploration. Instruments and a camera with magnifying lenses are placed in the abdomen through two to three small incisions (5mm).

Liver, intestine, lymph nodes, and cancerous masses are routinely biopsied through laparoscopy for diagnosis. In addition, many diseases may be treated directly through laparoscopy, including removal of:

  • Adrenal glands (adrenalectomy)
  • Foreign bodies in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Urinary bladder stones

Laparoscopy is also an effective tool in the treatment of cancer. Laparoscopy allows the surgeon to directly evaluate the extent or spread of cancer in the abdominal organs. Even if the cancer cannot be treated, the surgeon can confirm the diagnosis and the patient will experience minimal discomfort during the recovery period.

Thoracoscopy (Thoracic Exploratory Surgery)

Thoracoscopy involves two to three small incisions or “ports” in the chest to allow for evaluation of both sides of the thoracic cavity, including the heart, lungs, and pericardium. The ports are slightly larger than in laparoscopy, as the camera is larger in size (10mm).

Thoracoscopy has several beneficial applications in pets. Pets with cardiac disease, such as pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart), can be treated with a subtotal pericardiectomy (removal of the pericardium) or pericardial window techniques. Lungs, pleura (lining of the thoracic cavity and lungs), and lymph nodes may be biopsied. In addition, lung tumors and lymph nodes can be removed.

Recovery from traditional thoracic surgery often requires placement of a chest tube, along with at least two to three days of hospitalization. With MIS, the recovery period is shortened significantly and chest tubes are often avoided.

Appointments and Referrals

Pets undergoing minimally and non-invasive procedures must be evaluated by a board-certified surgeon. Full general anesthesia is required. Please consult your family veterinarian to determine whether these procedures are appropriate for your pet. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Greg Marsolais, DVM, MS, DACVS or Dr. Mike Dearmin, DVM, MS, DACVS, please call 831-899-4838.