A Little Information About The Omentum
by Roger Ross DVM

You may not be familiar with the membrane like film of blood and lymphatic vessels that is draped over the intestines.  But if your pet needs adominal surgery, your surgeon may use this film like membrane to cover incisions made into the intestines, bladder etc.  This is a great technique that greatly speeds healing and prevents intestinal or bladder leakage.  We surgeons sometimes call the omentum the abdominal policeman or the surgeon's friend.

The omentum is atached to the stomach and the blood vessels of the omentum are extensions of the stomach vessels.  With a little surgical creativity, we can cut the omentum in such a way as to cover almost any organ in the abdomen AND we can even thread it through the diaphram into the chest if needed.

Why am I telling you this surgical detail?

Because if your pet has a large or terrible wound to the flank or side or belly, your vet may try to convince you that the wound would heal better if he (or she) went to the extra expense of opening the abdomen and threading the omentum out onto the wound!   Guess what?  It's true.  The extra healing that the omentum provides often greatly enhances wound healing.

Cool.  Anyways, I thought this special technique might be something you might not know about.  If your pet has an extra large wound or if it has a wound that hasn't healed as expected, we can often get successful healing if we go to the extra trouble and expense of "harvesting" the omentum to use as a type of "living bandage" over the wound.  I just thought you would find that interesting.

The omentum acts as a souce of moisture, fibroblasts, antibodies to fight infection, and nutrients to the wound.

The omentum acts as a type of drain.  The blood and lymph supply of the omentum will "suck" up the draining debris and liquids of the wound.

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About using the Omentum in Surgery

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The Omentum

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The skin of this poor dog was sheared off after being dragged under a car.  One technique for repair is to thread the omentum through a small hole from the abdominal cavity and use it to cover much of the wound where it can act like a living bandage.  At our practice, we would refer a case this severe to a specialist for skin grafts.
The omentum is a membrane of tiny blood vessels and fat deposits attached to the outside of the stomach that loosely covers the intestines.  The surgeon and his assistant have it stretched out in the picture to your left.  In the illustration on your right, it's used to cover an incision on the intestines.