Diaphragmatic Hernia Repair Surgery
Learning that your pet needs surgery can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are unsure of what the procedure entails. At Anicira, we work with pet parents to ensure that you are well-informed before your pet’s surgery. Our veterinary team provides compassionate care before, during, and after surgery to ensure that your pet is safe and comfortable.
What is a diaphragmatic hernia?
A diaphragmatic hernia is an abnormal opening or hole in the diaphragm that allows abdominal organs, such as the stomach, intestines, or liver, to move into the chest cavity. As a result, this can put pressure on the lungs and heart, leading to potentially serious complications.
What causes a diaphragmatic hernia in a cat or a dog?
A diaphragmatic hernia can be present from birth (congenital) or caused by trauma.
What can happen if a diaphragmatic hernia is left untreated?
Left untreated, a diaphragmatic hernia can cause blood flow to be cut off to essential organs and abdominal contents. This can be painful and deadly.
Admission Time – Bring your pet to Anicira at 7 am.
Food – You may feed your pet a quarter of their normal breakfast no later than 6 am.
Water – Your pet may have water until the surgery.
Pre-surgical exam – Your pet must be healthy and show no signs of contagious disease such as coughing, sneezing, or diarrhea.
Medical records – If you have not already sent your medical records, please bring all relevant medical records.
Diaphragmatic Hernia Repair Surgery
Before surgery, our veterinary team will perform a thorough pre-surgical examination to ensure your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia. Preanesthetic labwork may be required to ensure that no health concerns go undetected.
Your pet will be under general anesthesia. The surgical team will prepare the surgical site by shaving and then cleaning the area to remove bacteria and decrease the risk of potential infection.
The veterinarian will make an incision into your pet’s abdomen and move any displaced organs into their proper position. Then the veterinarian will repair the hernia by closing the hole in the diaphragm. During surgery, they will also examine all other abdominal organs to assess for any additional disease. The veterinarian will then close the abdomen.
Caring for Your Pet After Diaphragmatic Hernia Repair Surgery
Anesthesia may take 24 to 48 hours to wear off.
- Your pet may be groggy or whiny during this time.
- Keep your pet confined in a secure, quiet, and comfortable space. We recommend a crate or a small room.
- Isolate them from other pets and children while recovering.
Make sure your pet wears their Elizabethan Collar (E-Collar / Cone)
- Your pet’s surgical site will take 10 to 14 days to heal. During this period, they should wear an e-collar at all times.
- Allowing your pet to lick their incision can lead to infection or dehiscence (opening of the incision).
Offer food & water after surgery
- When your pet returns home, offer them food and water
- Anesthesia may cause nausea, so your pet may not be interested in food
- If vomiting occurs, wait 12 hours before offering more food.
- Resume regular feeding the day after surgery. Your pet’s appetite should be back to normal within 24 hours.
- If your pet refuses to eat, you may try offering a bland diet such as white rice and lean protein (for example, boiled chicken breast) while they regain a normal appetite.
- Please do not feed your pet junk food, table scraps, or milk.
Give all medications as directed.
- Your pet will be sent home with oral pain medication. Please follow the instructions on the label.
- If possible, please give the pain medication with food. If your pet has no appetite, please ensure they still take the pain medication.
- OTC pain relievers such as Tylenol and Advil are toxic to pets. Please do not give these to your pet.
Check surgical incision daily for the first week
- Your pet’s surgical site will be healing for 10-14 days.
- What you see on the day of surgery is what we consider normal
- Monitor for increased redness, swelling, discharge, or pulling apart of the incision.
Other shaved areas
- Your pet may have shaved areas on one or more legs from where an IV catheter was placed and under the tail for monitoring equipment during anesthesia.
- These areas may be irritated or bruised. If your pet is excessively licking, please use a taste deterrent spray or e-collar to prevent self-trauma.
- If your pet went home with a brightly colored wrap on their leg, this should be removed 30 minutes after returning home.
Limit your pet’s activity and keep them clean, dry, and warm for 10 days after surgery.
- Ensure your pet is supervised around all potential hazards (including stairs)
- Pets should be kept indoors so they can stay clean, dry, and warm.
- Dogs should be walked outside on a leash to urinate and defecate. No off-leash activity during the entire recovery period.
- No running, jumping, playing, swimming, or other strenuous activity.
- Do not bathe your pet or have it groomed during the recovery period.
How long does it take to recover from diaphragmatic hernia repair?
Typically, pets fully recover within 10-14 days of surgery.
Complications from diaphragmatic hernia repair surgery are rare. If your pet experiences these issues after surgery, please contact Anicira.
- Redness, swelling, or discharge at the surgical site, which could be signs of infection
- Dehiscence – both sides of the surgical site should be touching. Watch for any gapping.
Rare, but Serious Complications of Diaphragmatic Hernia Repair Surgery
- Damage to organs during extraction from the hernia. Depending on how long the organs have been displaced, scar tissue can develop and this must be broken down when relocating the organs. This may cause damage to the organs.
- Excessive bleeding.
Please contact Anicira, your primary care veterinarian, or an emergency clinic if any of the following occur:
- Pale gums
- Severe pain, depression or weakness
- Vomiting or Diarrhea
- Labored breathing
- Decreased appetite for more than 24 hours
- Lethargy lasting more than 24 hours