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Letters: Christine – Flank spays

| December 30, 2011


I recently took my Persian baby in for spaying, the shock I felt when our baby came home with a flank spay instead of a normal spay is a fine example of just how much vets take advantage of us and I feel it desperately needs to be shared among everyone.

I have been researching a lot on the procedure that was performed. You might find it quite interesting.

Flank spays

Question from Liza:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the flank spay (in cats)?

Response from Julie Levy:

Great question Liza.

Let me start by saying that the benefits of one approach over the other are not so great that they exceed other issues, such as the comfort zone of the surgeon.

The flank approach places the incision on the flank of the cat about halfway down the side from the spine. The left side is more commonly used than the right, but it can be done on either side. The midline incision runs on the middle of the abdomen. The full uterus and ovaries can be removed from either approach. Out of tradition, the flank approach is taught in the UK, whereas the midline approach is taught in the US.

Benefits of the flank approach:
– It’s a little faster (at least for me)
– An incisional complication will not lead to evisceration
– It is out of the way of mammary glands in lactating cats
– Caretakers can monitor the incision without handling the cat
– Good for cats with pyoderma of the ventral abdominal skin

Disadvantages of the flank approach are mainly due to the inability to perform a thorough exploratory of the abdomen.
– Harder to confirm that a cat has been previously spayed
– Nearly impossible to retrieve a dropped vessel, ovary, or uterus
– Unable to figure out those cats with weird anatomy that are missing parts of their reproductive tracts.

For feral cats, I prefer the flank approach. It’s just a little easier for me. I don’t like to spay juveniles this way because their tract is a little tighter and tears easier. It’s harder to get the whole thing out via the flank in kittens. I also don’t like to do pregnant cats via the flank, mostly because it leaves a large visible scar. However, I have ended up spaying both pregnant cats and cats with pyometra this way.

For pet cats, I prefer the midline approach. Sometimes hair on the incision line grows back kinky or another color or the scar is visible at the surgery site. There are no cosmetic problems with a midline approach. I don’t think feral cats are as vain as pet cats.



I will quote a few words from my good friend in the USA; (We were discussing via AIM)::

xx crystalcat (6:33:44 PM): thinking maybe vet is using that spaying method because its quicker and he can charge more

HLMaverique (6:33:51 PM): yes

HLMaverique (6:34:01 PM): deb said it is faster than the abdominal incision

HLMaverique (6:34:13 PM): it was meant to be that way – for emergency c-sections.

xx crystalcat (6:34:20 PM): and no dissolving stitches which is wierd

xx crystalcat (6:34:25 PM): aaaah

xx crystalcat (6:34:32 PM): im thinking i’m going to expose it

xx crystalcat (6:34:44 PM): to major magazines and newspapers

HLMaverique (6:34:46 PM): it was meant to be faster and less to move out of the way to get to the uterus

xx crystalcat (6:35:02 PM): -hugs- im going to tell my mom now thats why

HLMaverique (6:35:35 PM): it is faster in, faster done, faster out – you can get more done in a day than the abdominal surgeries.

HLMaverique (6:35:43 PM): it is a time-saving, cost-saving method

HLMaverique (6:36:16 PM): she has done it many times on ferals that are released back to their habitat after spaying is done.

HLMaverique (6:36:30 PM): she and I got 22 females done in 5 hours one time.

HLMaverique (6:36:45 PM): we NEVER could have done 22 females if she’d done abdominals.

xx crystalcat (6:39:46 PM): whoa

HLMaverique (6:40:40 PM): she went down the line and injected them all with sedatives – I shaved, she spayed, I tended to them as they woke up……..2 ppl, 22 cats, 5 hours.

HLMaverique (6:40:50 PM): thousands of feral kitties prevented.

HLMaverique (6:42:06 PM): she would NEVER do that procedure unless there was a health risk by going abdominally.

The vet left stitches hanging out for both of my cats to chew – I have to constantly watch that they don’t. I found out from three different vets (including the vet in question) that they charge the SAME price for this “feral” procedure which is cheaper and riskier than the normal one. The two others that I have managed to phone so far DON’T do it as their normal procedure – you have to ask them for the “Left Lateral Flank Spay”. I will phoned three different vets ALL stating they charge the same for both procedures although one being a short cut for them.

The vet in question STILL claims this “Left Lateral Flank Spay” is new and is used in Europe (it is his default procedure – he does NOT inform clients of it unless they own colourpoints which change the coat texture.)

It’s not so much the fact that the procedure is still available – it’s the fact that the vet did the surgery WITHOUT any knowledge to us. We didn’t even know it existed before this, unfortunately we found out the hard way, thats why I feel EVERYONE needs to know about this, to avoid the anger I have been feeling.

I can’t explain how livid I am, the DANGEROUS procedure he did will most probably leave a scar because of the “tacky” way he stitched her up, and left stitches in the way for cats to chew – absolutely SHOCKING; not to metion the pain she must feel when sitting – the wound moves to the corner of her upper hind leg & stretches – since kitten skin generally does not stretch that well he made a huge mistake with NO APOLOGY. He didn’t even BOTHER to put the dissolving stitches on the inside. Therfore ADDING to the immense profit he is making off us – just because most people don’t know better.

I’m not trying to blow this out of proportion either – I’ve waited a while and gained verifiable evidence. It’s double the amount here in relation to the States. & Quote again;

HLMaverique (6:44:40 PM): most vets here charge 35-50 for spay – depending on aftercare options

The amount here for spaying converts to $84. With relation to the amount we paid for the cat itself (ours = $200-$300, theirs = $500-$600), hence the US is x2 cheaper for vet care.

So basically it is a 10 year old emergency C-Section procedure that has been turned into a profit making spay procedure (which many of us didn’t know existed in the first place).


Category: Feline Resources

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