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What is castration, and why is it important?

Updated: Mar 15, 2022

Introduction

 

Castration is the surgical removal of the testes from a male mammal through an incision either in front of the scrotum or through it. The technique is referred to as an 'open' castration technique and can also be referred to as neutering or Orchiectomy

What is the importance of castration?

 

1. Prevent male fertility and associated behavioural responses.

A dog showing behavioural response

2. Treatment of certain diseases influenced by male sex hormones, e.g.,

  1. Prostate diseases

  2. Perineal hernias or

  3. Perianal rupture.


3. Treatment of cancer (neoplasia), e.g.,

  1. Cancer of the testes, epididymis or scrotum

  2. Perianal cancers (adenomas/adenocarcinomas),


4. Treatment of Orchitis/epididymitis i.e., inflammation of the testes or the epididymis.

Inflammation of the testes and the epididymis

5. Treatment of genetic (congenital) problems, e.g., abdominally retained testicles (cryptorchidism). Cryptorchidism is where a male dog's testicles do not completely descend into the scrotum. Descent to the final scrotal position is complete by two months of age, otherwise, if by six months of age the testicles have not descended, they are considered to be cryptorchid or retained.

An English Bulldog with both testicles within the scrotum
An English Bulldog, both testicles have descended into the scrotum

An image showing only one testicle having descended into the scrotum. (Springerlink)

A cryptorchid dog with the retained testicle within the abdomen about to be removed (Canis)

6. Treatment of trauma to this region.


7. Treatment to control epilepsy

How is the aftercare after surgery?

 
  1. Post-operatively, the dog is put on painkillers

  2. Antibiotics are given routinely to control infection after castration.

  3. The wound is protected in some dogs by providing an Elizabethan collar to prevent interference with skin sutures.

  4. Stitch removal, if skin sutures are used, in 7-10 days.


What are the potential complications?

 
  1. Haemorrhage (bleeding) from slipped or misplaced stitches or undiagnosed bleeding disorders.

  2. Scrotal hematoma (scrotal swelling).

  3. Infection or wound opens

  4. Scrotal skin reaction.

What are the long-term complications?

 
  1. Hormonal (Endocrine) alopecia - loss of hair.

  2. Hyposomatotropism is a rare complication of castration. Hyposomatotropism is a deficiency in the release of pituitary growth hormone (somatotropin), resulting in short stature

References

 

Gourley, J. (1998). Early neutering of cats and dogs. The Veterinary Record, 142(9), 228-228.


Michell, A. R. (1998). Neutering and longevity in dogs. The Veterinary Record, 142(11), 288-288.


Poole, C. (1998). Early neutering of cats and dogs. The Veterinary Record, 142(9), 227-228.

Thornton, P. D. (1998). Early neutering of cats and dogs. The Veterinary Record, 142(8), 200-200.


Fausak, E. D., Rodriguez, E., Simle, A. E., Merman, N., & Cook, D. (2018). Does the Use of Intratesticular Blocks in Dogs Undergoing Orchiectomies Serve as an Effective Adjunctive Analgesic?. Veterinary Evidence, 3(4).


Bigham, A. S., Karimi, I., Shadkhast, M., Imani, H., & Khaghani, A. (2009). Left intrainguinal canal cryptorchidism concurrent with two pathological findings in a mixed-breed aged dog. Comparative clinical pathology, 18(4), 463-466.


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I just learnt orchiectomy can be used to control epilepsy. Hyposomatotropism as a long term complication is also new to me. This is so blos are just it! Thanks Doc🤗

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You're most welcome. It's my pleasure.

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