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The Perineum is the area of the body underneath the tail and between the hind legs. A perineal hernia is usually a soft protrusion occurring in this area. It is most commonly seen in the upper side region adjacent to the tail as in diagram.

The perineal hernia is a result of weakening of the Pelvic Diaphragm muscles. The pelvic diaphragm consists of 3 overlaping structures that are situated between the colon and the internal aspect of the pelvis. Weakening of these structures allows abdominal contents to push through the weakened area causing a swelling in various areas of the perineal region.

The exact cause of the weakening is still unclear and may be multifactorial. Some of the causes are thought to be:

  • hormonal
  • breed
  • short tail
  • prostatic disease
  • causes of chronic straining
  • being male

Symptoms of a perineal hernia include:

  • swelling
  • straining to defecate
  • difficult urination or urinary obstruction
  • abdominal pain
  • discolouration of the skin over the swelling

Benji is an aged male miniature fox terrier. He is a very much loved Little Mischief, and a great companion for his owner. Benji has had the misfortune to have suffered from three herniations in the perineal area over the last four years. The first two hernias were classic hernias in the right and left lateral perineal areas and were corrected 4 and 3 years ago respectfully. Recently another less common hernia occurred on the right side just below the anus. This hernia developed because of a weakness that developed in the original repair probably because of further deterioration of the muscular structure in this area.

To repair the normal type of hernia a muscle is elevated from the floor of the pelvis and sutured to the muscle forming the anal sphincter and the muscles that work the tail. In Benji’s case it is not possible to use this procedure to correct the defect. So to correct the problem we used a muscle from Benji’s leg crossing it over the defect and suturing it to the appropriate muscles. This procedure has restored the functional status of the pelvic diaphragm and Benji no longer has any trouble going to the toilet. With return to normal function Benji is also enjoying life once more.

 

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