The most common indication for ‘key-hole’ surgery of the equine abdomen is the removal of intra-abdominal cryptorchid testicles (‘rigs’) and both normal and abnormal ovaries. For ‘barren’ mares, instillation of PGE2 gel on the oviducts and/or laparoscopic uteropexy can be very successful, given careful patient selection.
Laparoscopy can also be useful in the investigation of horses with chronic abdominal pain and chronic weight loss, usually in conjunction with other diagnostic imaging modalities and appropriate diagnostic tests. Other techniques include nephrosplenic space ablation, inguinal herniorraphy and other advanced laparoscopic procedures.
There are several advantages of laparoscopic surgery compared to conventional ‘open’ surgical techniques including shorter convalescence time and reduced complication rates. Most laparoscopic procedures are performed with the horse sedated and standing, rather than under a general anaesthetic which is an added advantage. It is important that patients should be starved adequately prior to surgery to allow safe intra-abdominal access and satisfactory intra-operative visualisation. The period of starvation necessary will depend on the procedure to be undertaken, but is usually between 24-36 hours.