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Objective To evaluate postoperative pain and morbidity in dogs undergoing open thoracotomy and partial pericardectomy versus thoracoscopic pericardectomy.

Study Design Research study in normal dogs.

Animals or Sample Population Fourteen mixed breed healthy dogs.

Methods Seven dogs had a partial pericardectomy through a standard left lateral thoracotomy at the fifth intercostal space. The remaining seven dogs underwent selective lung ventilation and thoracoscopic partial pericardectomy. Surgery sites in both groups were bandaged and each dog received a single postoperative dose of morphine (0.2 mg/kg, intramuscularly [IM]). Postoperative pain was evaluated using a standard pain score table at 1, 5, 9, 17, 29, and 53 hours after surgery. Dogs receiving a pain score of six or greater received an additional dose of morphine. At each observation point, blood samples were taken to measure blood glucose and plasma cortisol concentrations. Pain scores, blood glucose, and plasma cortisol concentrations were compared between the two groups using two-way ANOVA.

Results Blood glucose concentrations, plasma cortisol concentrations, and pain scores were significantly different between the two groups, with the thoracotomy dogs having higher values at 1, 5, and 9 hours postoperatively. Three of the open thoracotomy dogs required additional analgesia after the initial dose of morphine. In addition, two dogs that underwent open thoracotomy were lame in the left forelimb and two others developed dehiscence of their wounds.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance Thoracoscopic partial pericardectomy has several advantages over open partial pericardectomy including decreased postoperative pain, fewer wound complications, and more rapid return to function.