| Doctors do the surgery all the time on women
who don’t want more children. For them, it’s a simple
But for veterinarians, the
procedure is a whole new dimension in animal
So the operation, which was performed
Tuesday at K-State, was quite a big deal for veterinarians
there. And it turned out to be a unique experience for at
least one local people doctor, too.
is a relatively new addition to the Rolling Hills Refuge near
Salina. Right away, the Refuge was told she had a problem. She
is the product of in-breeding, and the keepers had been
advised she shouldn’t be allowed to have
The natural solution was to have her
sterilized, and the natural venue was K-State. Rolling Hills,
which is just off I-70 and newly accredited, uses the school
for all its official medical needs.
problem, though, was the potential for complications. When
female sterilization is performed on dogs or cats, doctors
make a comparatively large incision.
really not a fun thing to do in monkeys because they pick at
the incision,” said Dennis Olsen, assistant professor of
So Ruby would have had to
stay at the hospital for several days under observation, to
make sure she kept her hands off her stitches. And because of
the size of the incision, there would be a longer healing
period and greater chance for infection — especially if Ruby
was fooling around with the cut.
A much better
“It’s a really neat
procedure,” Isaza said.
It works something like
The surgeon makes two tiny cuts in the
patient’s abdomen. In one of them, doctors insert a tiny
fiberoptic camera so they can see inside the body. The other
slit is the one doctors use to actually get to the fallopian
tubes. Centimeter-long pieces of Ruby’s fallopian tubes are
cut and pulled out through the incision, then the remaining
tubes are cauterized. The largest incision is a half-inch
long, Olsen said. Two tiny, hidden stitches close the
K-State’s veterinary hospital has
laproscopy equipment, which they’ve used to do numerous other
surgeries on other kinds of animals.
fallopian-tube ligation — that’s the rare
“Who does this every day?” Isaza said.
“Not veterinary surgeons.”
But people surgeons
do. So K-State called in Bonnie Catterson, a Manhattan doctor
who specializes in women’s reproductive care — and who does
the procedure often. It’s uncommon for people doctors to treat
animals, Olsen said, but there was no question that Ruby would
be better off having a surgeon experienced in the operation.
And what better way for K-State vets to learn to do the
fallopian ligation than by watching a pro?
was great fun,” said Catterson, who volunteered her services
for free. And, she said, her orangutan patient was remarkably
similar to her human ones.
“When you looked
inside the belly, you couldn’t tell” if it was an orangutan or
a human, Catterson said. “Basically, the anatomy was
The operation took about 45
minutes, Isaza said. And the best part: Ruby was back at
Rolling Hills that same afternoon — awake, alert and feeling
You can reach Jennifer Detweiler by phone
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