Perineal Rupture


Why Should I Bring my Pet to Willows for Treatment of a Perineal Rupture?

Willows is one of Europe’s leading small animal referral centres. Our state-of-the-art hospital is led by internationally renowned Specialists, committed to providing the highest standards of veterinary care.

Our Soft Tissue Specialists have extensive experience in the management and treatment of patients with perineal rupture.

The successful management of perineal rupture relies on input from a number of other disciplines.

Our Soft Tissue Surgeons are supported by our multi-disciplinary team of Specialists across a number of disciplines including; Anaesthesia, Diagnostic Imaging and Emergency and Critical Care.

Willows also has a large dedicated team of Vets, Nurses and clinical support staff available 24 hours a day, every day of the year to provide the best possible care for your pet.

What is a Perineal Rupture?

A perineal rupture (perineal hernia) is a weakness or separation of the muscles of the pelvic diaphragm. The pelvic diaphragm is formed from a group of muscles situated around the rectum and form the caudal (back) wall of the abdominal cavity. A perineal rupture is an abnormal hole in this diaphragm or sheet of muscles that allows fat or organs from the abdominal cavity to bulge into the area surrounding the anus (the perineum).

The condition predominantly affects middle aged to older male dogs, particularly entire (uncastrated) males. However, younger male dogs, female dogs and cats can also be affected.

What are the Most Common Causes of a Perineal Rupture?

There is a strong link between perineal rupture and the male hormone levels in middle aged to older uncastrated male dogs. Any disease development that affects the levels of male hormones can therefore predispose a dog to perineal rupture. Any condition that results in straining or increased intra-abdominal pressure can result in failure of the pelvic diaphragm muscles.

Risk factors for perineal rupture include:

  • Entire (uncastrated) male status
  • Disease of the testicles (e.g. tumours)
  • Disease of the prostate gland, which is found near the neck of the bladder in male animals (e.g. benign enlargement, abscess, cysts, tumours)
  • Straining due to abdominal disease (e.g. colitis [inflammation of the large intestine])
  • Pregnancy (due to increased abdominal pressure).

What are the Signs of Perineal Rupture?

Clinical signs can include:

  • Perineal swelling, this can fluctuate in size
  • Perineal bruising
  • Pain/discomfort associated with the swelling
  • Pain or discomfort when passing of faeces
  • Constipation
  • Urine retention – an inability to empty the bladder properly
  • Acute illness due to obstruction of urine flow from the bladder
  • Generalised sickness.

How is a Perineal Rupture Diagnosed?

In order to maximise the successful treatment of the rupture, it is important to identify risk factors that are present in the patient and treat these at the same time as treating the rupture. Each investigation will be tailored to the patient, although typically this may include the following:

  • Rectal examination (may require sedation or general anaesthesia), this will include assessment of the side opposite to the obvious rupture
  • Blood tests
  • Urine analysis
  • Ultrasound scan of the abdomen and possibly of the hernia
  • Prostate gland investigation/biopsy
  • Examination of the testicles
  • Chest X-rays in some cases

Cases with displacement of the bladder can present as emergencies and require urgent stabilisation prior to investigation and treatment.


What Treatment Options are Available for a Perineal Rupture?

Most patients will require repair of the rupture, this is combined with castration in entire males to reduce the risk of failure.

In patients with other conditions that have contributed to the development of the rupture treatment will be required for the underlying problem, prior to or at the same time as repair of the rupture.

Some ruptures are repaired using the muscles within the pelvic diaphragm, although many require the movement of additional muscle into the area in order to close the rupture. In some severe cases, mobilisation of a muscle from a hind leg or a synthetic mesh may be required to complete the closure.

Further support for the repair can be given by fixing the bladder and colon (large intestine) into the abdomen but this is not necessary in all cases.

What can I Expect if my Pet is Treated for a Perineal Rupture?

Over 90% of uncomplicated cases receiving rupture repair and castration resolve following the surgery.
In experienced hands, complications following surgery are infrequent, and patients usually stay in hospital for a few days to ensure they are comfortable and passing faeces easily.

Despite careful selection of the technique used and meticulous care, complications can occur in a minority of cases and include:

  • Recurrence of the rupture; stool softeners may be advised long term to reduce the straining during defaecation and therefore protect the repair
  • Rupture of the other side
  • Infection; the surgical site is in the perineal region, near to the anus which is a source of bacteria
  • Faecal incontinence; uncommon and usually temporary.

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Soft Tissue Surgery

Find out more

To assist owners in understanding more about Soft Tissue Surgery we have put together a range of information sheets to talk you through the some of the more common soft tissue conditions seen and treated by our Specialists.