If you have a male horse that you would like to get castrated but only one of his testicles has descended, then surgery is much more complicated than in a typical castration. In the past, the surgeon would have to use a longer-lasting anesthetic than for a normal castration, make a fairly large incision in the horse's abdomen, and sometimes even insert the veterinarian's entire hand into the abdomen to find the testicle. This large incision caused significant post-operative pain and longer healing time. However, this procedure is now being performed by board-certified surgeons at referral centers with a laparoscope, providing minimally invasive surgery. Don't expect every local veterinarian to have this equipment because it is expensive and requires a lot of extra training.
Laparoscopy involves the use of a telescope and a camera to look inside the abdomen at all of the organs there. It requires two to three incisions that are less than 1 inch in length that heal quickly, and with much less pain than a large abdominal incision. Instruments are inserted through these small incisions. In the case of a retained testicle, the testicle is identified and removed. With the laparoscopic technique, Dr. John Janicek from Bertram, Texas, indicates that with any type of surgery it is used for, time spent in the hospital is decreased, pain is less, and the smaller incisions are more cosmetic. Also, some of the procedures can be performed with the horse standing, which prevents an anesthetic and recovery problem. And every time you anesthetize a horse and lay it down, there is always a risk of recovery problems when they attempt to stand.
Many other equine abdominal procedures besides castration can also be performed with the laparoscope.