Does size really matter? Incision lengths in veterinary surgery
Ahem. Yes, size matters. Predictably, surgeons who like to make long incisions in the surgical theater think it’s a better measure of their thoroughness. Meanwhile, surgeons preferring short ones believe their way is less painful and less fraught with incision-site complications.
To my, mind, it’s a general question of style, neither one better than the other, both of which have their place in the OR. After all, we wouldn’t want our young shelter pets flayed from sternum to pubis for a routine sterilization procedure, but neither would I want my liver cancer patient handled through a button-hole. There are indications and contraindications to both.
It’s true, however, that small incision surgeons are chest-thumping egomaniacs often overly-pleased with their prowess with a scalpel. But, then, that’s true of all those who call themselves “surgeons.” Long incision surgeons may be perhaps a tad less arrogant yet they also take a superior position on their approach, defending their meticulous search and rescue approach over their colleagues’ hunt and kill.
Hmmm…methinks they all have small sports car syndrome. But I digress…
As a medium-small cut kind of girl, it seems to me I’d almost always want a smaller incision—less pain, less scarring, less of a chance I might lick my wound open, too.
Though I’ll make a huge slash when I’m in a pinch and I’ve really gotta see what’s in there—fast!—I’d much rather make a small jab and keep inching it open as my needs dictate. But, then, I’m not normally taking out ginormous spleens and searching for cancer. Those cases go to the real “surgeons.”
Long-slice surgeons like to say that both long and short incisions heal at the same rate: “they heal side to side not end to end.” Yet that’s not always been my experience—especially with really flexible dogs who’ve found every way out of my favorite e-collar and onesie combo. Long incisions=more licking. Licking=slower healing.
Still, as far as I’m concerned it’s the surgeons who can hash out the size thing amongst themselves. As long as they keep taking my cases and sending them back perfectly sewn up with no complications I guess it shouldn’t matter that much to me.