A Gartner cyst is an embryonic male reproductive structure in female animals that should not have formed
Removal of this structure is generally easy, but critical knowledge of the anatomy is essential for a complication free outcome
Prognosis is excellent
The reproductive tract in the fetus has both male and female parts. The female part is called the Mullerian ducts system and the male part is called the Wolffian duct system. Due to hormonal influences, the male duct system disappears in females and visa versa in males. Sometime a portion of the Wolffian system remains in female animals (and humans). Because this duct is lined with mucus producing cells, it produces fluid. This duct system is located between the vagina and the cervix. The duct has no opening into the vagina and no opening into the uterus, therefore it becomes a cystic, closed structure. With time the cyst enlarges with fluid and can compress internal organs such as the bladder, urethra (tube that leads to the outside from the bladder) and colon. If this structure gets infected, the patient may become very ill
In some patients the Gartner cyst may not cause clinical signs until it has reached a critical size. In symptomatic patients, straining to urinate or defecate may be the most common signs. The veterinarian usually will be able to feel this cyst with a rectal examination and potentially with abdominal palpation. If the cyst becomes infected, the patient will become depressed, may have a fever, have abdominal pain and may vomit.
The diagnosis of this condition is based on abdominal x-rays which may show a mass like structure within the abdomen above the bladder. The photo right shows a Gartner cyst that is compressing the bladder. Ultrasound is also useful to identify identify the structure has a Gartner cyst. Ultimately, findings at surgery and biopsy of the structure provide a definitive diagnosis.
Preparation for surgery
Make sure that your pet is fasted, as instructed by your pet's surgical team. Water is usually permitted up to the time of admission to the hospital. Your pet's surgeon may prescribe an antacid such as Pepcid AC, which should be administered by 6 AM on the day of surgery; this treatment will help reduce the risk of esophagitis (heartburn) in the postop period. Inform the surgical team of any medications that your pet is currently receiving. Your pet should not receive any aspirin within 1 week of surgery, as this medication will thin the blood and increase the risk of bleeding. Prior to surgery, your pet will receive a sedative, have an intravenous catheter placed for the administration of intravenous fluids and intravenous medications, be induced under general anesthesia with medication(s), and have a breathing tube (endotracheal tube) placed to allow delivery of oxygen and gaseous anesthesia. The surgical site will be clipped and cleansed with an anti-septic solution in preparation for surgery. While under general anesthesia, your pet's breathing will be assisted with a ventilator and vital parameters such as heart rate, respiratory rate, core body temperature, blood pressure, oxygenation of the blood (pulse oximetry), exhaled carbon dioxide (capnography), and heart rhythm (EKG) will be monitored to ensure your companion's well being. Pain will be controlled both during and after surgery with analgesics (pain-controlling medication).
Removal of Gartner cyst is a relatively easy, but delicate procedure. The peritoneum (lining over the cyst) is opened up and the cyst is gently freed up. Care is taken to prevent damage the ureters (tubes that come from kidneys and enter the neck of the bladder), bladder, ureters, nerves that enter the neck of the bladder (for urinary continence) and the colon.
Video of Gartner cyst removal in a dog
Complications of removing this type of cyst may include urinary incontinence (very rare) or damage to the vital structures that it is attached to.
At home the prescribed pain medication can be given to keep your companion comfortable. Exercise should be restricted for about 3 weeks after surgery
The prognosis is generally excellent for patients that have this type of surgery.
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Frequently Asked Questions After Surgery
When should my dog have the first bowel movement after surgery?
Many dogs will not have a bowel movement for the first 4 to 5 days after surgery
Reasons that a dog will not have regular bowel movements after surgery include:
The dog has been fasted prior to surgery
Dogs do not eat well during the hospital stay
They frequently do not eat well when they go home
They are fed highly digestible food that produces little stool
Pain medication that contain narcotics (such as morphine, fentanyl patches, and tramadol) can be constipating
If a pet does not have a bowel movement on the 5th day of being home, a stool softener such as metamucil can be fed
Dose of metamucil is 1 tsp per 25 Kg mixed in with each meal (canned dog food); feed immediately after mixing, as the metamucil will gel the food and may make it less palatable
My pet had surgery and will not eat. What can be done?
Most pets will not eat their regular dog food after surgery, especially if it is kibble.
Offer a cooked diet having a 1:1 ratio of a protein source and carbohydrate source. The protein source can be any meat (example: chicken breast, turkey breast, lean hamburger) that is low in fat and should be cooked (drain off all fat after the meat has been cooked). The carbohydrate can be pasta, potato or white rice.
Try canned dog food; to enhance the flavor sprinkle a very small amount of garlic powder or chicken or beef broth (Chicken-in-a- MugTM or Beef-in-a-MugTM products)
Try Gerber strained meats for babies such as the chicken, beef, turkey, or veal
Try Hill's A/D diet available at most veterinary hospitals
Hand feeding: place a small amount of food in the mouth so that your dog gets the flavor
Warm the food slightly in a microwave, as the food will be more aromatic; stir the food before feeding and test the temperature on the bottom side of your wrist; it should only be luke warm.
Remember that most pets will not eat the first day or two after they get home from surgery
Offer smelly foods that contain fish such as tuna or smelly cat foods
Try Gerber strained meats for babies such as the chicken, beef, turkey or veal
Hand feeding: with your finger place a small amount of food on the roof of your cat's mouth; use a syringe to get soft food into the mouth
Warm the food slightly in a microwave as the food will be more aromatic; remember to stir the food before feeding and test the temperature; it should be only luke-warm
Some cats will only eat dry food, try kibble if your cat normally has been fed that food
Petting and stroking your cat frequently will help to stimulate appetite
Remember that most pets will not eat the first day or two after they get home from surgery
Appetite stimulants such as cyproheptadine may be helpful
If your cat refuses to eat anything for 7 days a stomach tube or nasogastric tube should be placed to provide nutrition so that a serious liver problem (hepatic lipidosis) does not develop
My pet is vomiting. What can be done?
The first thing for you to discern is whether your pet is vomiting or regurgitating. Both will result in fluid or food being brought up. Vomiting always will have heaving or retching of the abdomen prior to expulsion of the vomitus. Regurgitation is not associated with heaving and the pet usually just opens the mouth and fluid or food will be expelled. Usually the regurgited material will be clear or brown colored fluid.
Next is to identify the cause of the vomiting or regurgitation.
Causes and treatment of vomiting after surgery
When some pets return home after a stay in the hospital they may drink excessive amounts of water at one time and then vomit; if this appears to be the case, the water should be limited to frequent smaller amounts.
Medications such as antibiotics, narcotics or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication commonly cause vomiting after surgery. In order to see which medication is causing the problem, the administration of each drug should be separated 2 hours apart. Usually the pet will vomit or appear nauseated (drooling and sick look) within 1 hour of administration of the medication that they are sensitive to. The antibiotic in some cases may be changed to a different one, or may be discontinued.
Stomach upset from anesthesia is a potential cause of vomiting and will pass within a couple of days.
An uncommon cause of vomiting after surgery is internal organ failure. Blood testing will confirm this problem. For this reason vomiting should not be ignored if it persists for more than 24 hours.
If your pet had surgery of the bowels or stomach, vomiting is always a concern, as it may indicate that infection of the abdominal cavity, called peritonitis, is present. Do not ignore this sign.
Symptomatic treatment of vomiting involves withholding food for 12 to 24 hours, then introducing small amounts of bland food such as rice and lean cooked hamburger, if your pet does not vomit after that then gradually wean him/her back onto the regular diet after 3 days. In order to decrease the acidity of the stomach, Pepcid AC 0.5 mg/kg can be given by mouth twice daily for 5 days. Metoclopramide and Cerenia are good anti-vomiting medications for dogs and cats. You should always consult a veterinary healthcare professional before administering medication.
Causes and treatment of regurgitation after surgery
The most common cause of regurgitation is reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus while your pet is under anesthesia. Acidic fluid from the stomach can cause a chemical burn of the esophagus and result in a bad case of heart burn, called esophagitis. This results in poor motility of the esophagus, therefore water and food will accumulate in this structure. In most cases, esphagitis is self-eliminating and will resolve within two or three days.
If the esophagitis is severe the esophagus may develop one or more strictures. A stricture is a narrowing or stenosis of the esophagus and does not allow passage of food down the esophagus, in regurgitation that lasts longer than one week. This problem should be brought to the attention of your pet's doctor within the first two weeks so that it can be treated by ballooning the stricture (minimally invasive procedure, as it is done with the aide of an endoscope). If an esophageal stricture is chronic surgery is needed.
Symptomatic treatment of regurgitation caused by esophagitis includes feeding bland food, and administering a coating agent (sucralfate) and an acid blocker (omeprazole or other). Consult a veterinary health care professional if the regurgitation continues for more than a couple of days.
How do I know that my dog is in pain following surgery?
Signs of pain include
biting if you get near the surgical site
grimacing (lips are pulled back and the the dog looks anxious)
tragic facial expression
restlessness and unable to sleep; pacing
if abdominal surgery was done the pet will not lie down on the incision, or will continually sit up in spite of appearing very tired
the worst pain will be for the first 2 to 3 days after surgery
What can I do to control my dog's pain?
Narcotic medications that control pain: tramadol, butorphanol, Duragesic (fentanyl patch)
Anti-inflammatories used to control pain: Deramaxx, Rimadyl, Previcox, or Etogesic
If an orthopedic surgery has been done cold packing the surgical site may be helpful
A cold pack may be a pack of frozen peas, crushed ice in a Ziploc bag, or a cold gel pack; place a thin barrier between the skin and the cold pack. An alternative to a cold pack is to freeze water in a styrofoam cup; after frozen cut the bottom of the styrofoam cup out. Cool the surgical site around the incision by rubbing the exposed ice directly on the skin in a circular pattern. Cooling the surgical site helps to numb the area.
How do I know that my cat is in pain following surgery?
Pain is more difficult to assess in cats versus dogs, as signs can be more subtle and they usually do not vocalize when in pain
Signs of pain in a cat include the following:
biting if you get near the surgical site
growling or deep cry
not wanting to eat
hiding and not wanting to be near owner (remember that this could also be caused by the cat just being upset about leaving home and coming back)
What can be done for pain at home for my cat?
Pain medication such as buprenorphine or a Duragesic (fentanyl) patch
Tylenol will kill a cat as they lack abundant glutathione enzyme in the liver
Anti-inflammatories can be used, but the dose is much less than dogs
Is it okay for my pet to lick the incision?
If a dog licks the incision, the healing process may be delayed.
Licking can remove stitches and cause the incision to open
Licking can become a severe habit that is difficult to break
Licking can cause infection as the mouth has many bacteria
Dogs will frequently lick the incision when the owner is not watching such as at night time; if the skin looks red or excoriated the most common cause is from licking.
To stop your pet from licking the following can be tried:
Elizabethan collar can be placed on the neck; this will not help stop your pet from scratching at the region
Cervical collar (bite not collar) is a less awkward device and can be effective at stopping a pet from licking the surgical site
A tee shirt can be used to cover an incision on the chest or front part of the abdomen; gather the waist of the shirt up over the dog's back and wrap an elastic band around this part of the shirt.
A bandage or sock can be used to cover an incision on a limb; fasten the top of the sock to the dog's limb with tape.
Bitter apple can be applied around the incision; many dogs will continue to lick after application of this topical
Bitter Apple and Liquid HeetTM (obtain this from a drugstore...it is used for sore muscles) mixed in a 2:1 ratio can be applied around the skin incision
Antipsychotic medication in some cases is needed
Board-certification by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons
What does it mean?
Four years of advanced training in surgery beyond the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree
Experience in the development of new surgical treatments
Rigorous examination by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons to ensure competency in advanced surgical techniques
Assurance that a veterinarian is a surgical specialist