My first ever castration on a cat…

Vet student in surgery

Yesterday morning I picked up the scalpel blade, tensed the skin and made my first cut into the scrotum of a cat… or at least that was my intention. Not enough pressure on the brand new scalpel blade and the skin remained pretty intact. It was my first time performing any surgery on a cat; sure I’ve assisted a lot, but actually taking the role of the surgeon and performing a procedure alone… This was my first time making the skin incision. I knew what I was doing, yet the skin was a lot tougher than I expected.

Yet it is not just about me here, it is about the patient on the table who I am operating on. This cat never asked for the surgery, that was the decision of the owners looking out for the cats best interest. With male cats castration reduces roaming, fighting and urine spraying (marking) in over 90% of cats neutered. With the number of cats that I’ve seen over the past few months with infected abscesses from fighting being able to reduce the likelihood of this to me is a good thing. Plus urine marking is not something us humans appreciate, so removing this behaviour means happier humans and less stress in the home.

Now the actual surgical procedure is one of the simplest in veterinary medicine, a small incision into the skin of the scrotum, opening the sack containing the testicles. Ligation (tying) of the blood vessels and spermatic cord and then cutting these to remove the testicle. The second testicle is then taken through the middle inside wall of the scrotum so there is only one incision through the skin. The skin incision is so small it does not need to be sutured close as it will heal itself rapidly in the few days after the surgery.

So passing the scalpel blade across the skin again it parted, and I saw the sack containing the testicles which I opened with just the tip of the blade as it is really thin. I don’t want to damage the testicle as one of the most important rules in surgery is good haemostasis (aka controlling and minimizing bleeding). I am holding the testicle, and separate it from the attachment to the containing sack. I expose the cord to ligate it, placing two ligatures with several “throws” on my knot, and then pass the scalpel blade across it detaching it from the body. I am checking for bleeding to make sure my ligatures are good, there is none so that is the first testicle removed. I repeat the process for the second testicle, with a little more speed now I have finished the first, I check for bleeding and finding none let the cord retract back into the scrotum.

Surgery complete I pass into the role of anaesthetist and monitor the patients recovery until they are ready to go home…

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