New JSAP study highlights clinical presentation and treatment outcome following ureter injuries during neutering

Ovariohysterectomy is a common procedure for cats and dogs but ureter injury is a potential complication. A new study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Small Animal Practice (JSAP), demonstrated that such ureter injuries may result in non-specific clinical signs. If these signs are attributed to an elective neutering procedure or anaesthetic rather than ureter injury, this could delay treatment which could negatively impact on renal recovery. Fortunately, if correctly recognised, this complication can be successfully treated with surgery.

Treatment and outcomes of ureter injuries due to ovariohysterectomy complications in cats and dogs1 was undertaken at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), UK. A retrospective case series of cats and dogs with ureteric injuries resulting from ovariohysterectomy was obtained from patient records at the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals, RVC. Fourteen female cats and five female dogs were included in the analysis. Descriptive statistics were used to report presenting clinical signs, clinical pathology, treatment and outcomes.

Professor Vicky Lipscomb, lead author of the paper, said “Presenting clinical signs of ureter injury following neutering in this study were non-specific, such as anorexia, vomiting and lethargy. Importantly, the clinical signs consistently developed immediately or shortly after surgery in the majority of animals. Therefore, the appearance of one or more clinical signs following neutering should raise suspicion of a neutering complication. The overall outcome for the 19 animals was excellent in 13 (68%), good in one (5%), fair in one (5%) and poor in four (22%). Ureteroneocystostomy (ureteral re-implantation) is preferred to ureteronephrectomy (removal of kidney and ureter) to preserve renal function and is usually a requirement for bilateral ureteric injuries but carries a high complication rate resulting in additional surgery, albeit often with an excellent final outcome.”

Nick Jeffery, editor of JSAP concluded: “Ovariohysterectomy is a common surgical procedure in cats and dogs, but the procedure carries a (low) risk of injury to one or both ureters due to the close proximity of the female reproductive tract and the ureters. This research highlights the need for vigilance regarding clinical signs following neutering but demonstrates that surgical treatment of ureteric injuries can have good patient outcome.”

The full article can be found in the March issue of the Journal of Small Animal Practice which is free for BSAVA members. It can also be read online here.

Authors of a number of papers from the March and April issues of JSAP will be discussing their research during the JSAP media briefing session at BSAVA Congress on Thursday 3rd April.

For information on how to become a BSAVA member visit:

1B. L. Plater and V. J. Lipscomb (2020) Treatment and outcomes of ureter injuries due to ovariohysterectomy complications in cats and dogs. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 61 (3). Available here.
Image Credit: Luisa Dormer