Friday, January 14, 2011

304. Caesarean section in a Maltese

Jan 15. 2011

A phone call from a breeder woke me up at 2.35 am. He is Dr Vanessa Lin's client but she does not do after midnight calls. "First-time giving birth. Straining but can't give birth," the breeder said.

I phoned Dr Jason Teo but he was sick. I was surprised that a young man like him could be sick. "It is food poisoning," he said. "I just did a Caesarean at 5 pm yesterday."

So I attended to this emergency. Warm cool night with cloudy skies. Definitely not freezing cold as in Europe.

DURATION OF SURGERY: Caesarean section times
Start of incision into skin: 3.35 am
End of last stitch: 4.08 am. It takes about 30 minutes to do an uncomplicated Caesarean section using my surgical approach.

Isoflurane gas only. Maintain at 1-2%. No sedation. This is the safest method.
Dog masked and then intubated.
"The dog is going to vomit," I said to Mr Saw as I pulled out the endotracheal tube. The vet has to be observant. He hanged the dog upside down to get out all vomitus. Re-anaesthesize again. No problem.

A caesarean section must be completed fast. Use less anaesthetic time and achieve a good outcome. Nothing is more stressful than a dam dying on the operating table. Efficiency is important. The skin and linea alba incisions were around 8 cm long between the midpoint of mammary glands no. 4 (see photo). I extended the incision a cm caudally as the pups were large.

I incise at the uterine horn bifurcation on the midline of the uterine body. Extended incision to near cervix as pups were large in this case as I could not pull out the first pup via a shorter incision. I pulled out 3 pups head first, one with meconium (brown stools inside amniotic fluid). The last one was back legs first. Each uterine horn has 2 pups and they were larger. "Give all 4 pups to the breeder," I said to my assistant as he would normally do the puppies with my associate vets.

The breeder took the pups inside the amniotic sac and this saved at least 6 minutes of anaesthetic time if my assistant and I had to do it. In Caesarean, the shorter the better for survival outcomes.

3/0 absorbable on uterus used. 2 rows of inverting suture. The first row was parallel to the incision. The second row was at right angles to the incision. Two artery forceps clamp either ends. Then I used 2/0 absorbable simple interrupted sutures to close the muscles and the skin (horizontal mattress). The four pups large and OK. The dam appeared frightened of pups, being first-time mother.
I incised the skin and linea alba as short as possible (XY), sufficient to pop out the puppy's head or backside.

Uterine body is incised. Amniotic sac with pup inside pops out (left). I pull out the sac if not ruptured and clamped the umbilical cord. Cut off the cord. Gave the pup to the breeder. Pulled out the placenta.
The uterine horns with no more pups is pulled out entirely to check for hidden pups
This procedure is not applicable if the vet had pulled out the whole uterus prior to incision. This approach requires a much longer skin and linea incision which may irritate the dam and cause stitch breakdown
Uterine body stitched with 2 rows of continuous sutures 3/0 absorbable. 2 artery forceps anchor both ends
Maltese pups look overdue as they have a thicker coat and are larger than others

Oxytocin, tolfedine and baytril injection SC. Breeder asked for pain-killer tolfedine as I usually don't give it as a routine and in the past. Trimethoprim syrup given for post-op antibiotics. I don't irrigate the abdomen after surgery as some vets do and such actions do impress some breeders. Introducing saline into the abdomen, no matter how sterile, risk introducing bacteria. There was little bleeding in this case as I incised the midline of the uterine body and avoided the blood vessels at the side.

A Miniature Schnauzer had dystocia. I gave 1.0 ml oxytocin IM before I started Caesarean of the Maltese. She gave birth to one pup in the Surgery. "Should be OK," I said. The breeder said: "The first pup died as I arrived home too late." He had his cigarette smoke outside the surgery as I hurried him away so that my assistant can go back to sleep. It must be hard to be a breeder. I don't know him well but I had 2 years of Caesarean section and vaccination experiences with the Pasir Ris breeders in 2005 to know that dog breeding is a heart-breaking and back-breaking business. Some of my interesting Caesarean surgeries are at:

I could not drive out as the road was blocked with whole-saler vegetable sellers from Malaysia. At least 50% less crowded than in 2005 when I did a lot of Caesarean sections for Pasir Ris breeders. I walked to see their activities. Younger men in bare top bodies. A few younger ladies. There was an old hunch-back woman picking up discarded red peppers and others in a plastic bag. Tinted bronze hair, weather beaten face, blouse and black pants.

The truck people (a young lady in pony tail looking at her mobile phone and two young bare-back muscular men) ignored her. It is always sad to see a senior citizen having to scavenge. Has she got children? Where had all her savings gone?

An alert Jack Russell from the truck looked at her and at me. The dog was still working at this hour! Most Singapore's Jack Russells would be sleeping in the apartments and houses.

I walked to a far away block of apartments and tried to shoot a picture of the dog with my zoom lens. Some 500 metres away. I went up the 2nd floor of an apartment.

It was very far away so that the wholesale vegetable people would not strangle me. Surprisingly, I saw a picture of this short-legged Jack Russell.

A Caesarean after midnight takes around 2 hours (from first phone call to waiting half an hour for the breeder who came late). The whole process ranged from 2.30 am to 4.30 am). Singapore was still a busy city at this time with many taxis prowling the roads. A McDonald bike was seen from my car at 5.30 am.

Some 5 hours later in the morning, the breeder phoned to say that there was another pup not born. Dr Jason Teo did the Caesarean to save the pup. It was alive.

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