Some dogs and cats can have such chronic, severe disease in their ear canals that medication just will not work any more. These poor animals are candidates for surgery to remove the affected part of the ear canal.
A procedure commonly done in many practices is called a Zepps procedure, in which one side of one half of the ear canal is removed to try and improve access to the canal for cleaning. This surgery is rarely successful at treating chronically scarred ear canals, as it does not remove enough tissue.
The most successful procedure for what is called an end-stage-ear canal is called a Total Ear Canal Ablation with Lateral Bulla Osteotomy (TECA-LBO).
This procedure involves removing the entire ear canal, the ear drum, and part of the bone of the middle ear canal. The ear flap (pinna) remains in place, but when lifted up there is just haired skin.
Hearing is reduced dramatically of course, but some loud sounds are still heard.
This is a challenging procedure with several areas of risk. Infection, wound breakdown, nerve damage, drooping eyelid, loss of pinna, are al recorded. Interestingly though, it has been shown that while significant side effects occur in around 65% of cases, owner satisfaction with the procedure is around 98%, in spite of the complications.
This is because these patients are in so much pain before surgery, and this pain is removed.
One of the commonest breeds to have a TECA-LBO is the Cocker Spaniel, which is often plagued by ear problems, and rapidly moves into the end-stage-ear level unless treated very aggressively.
TECA-LBO can also be used to treat ear cancers.
We have been performing TECA-LBO surgery at Pukekohe for many years, and are very satisfied with the results. Please contact the clinic if you would like to discuss this procedure and whether it is suitable for your pet.
Don’t let them suffer terrible pain from chronic ear disease when there is a cure available.
Paul Eason BVM&S MANZCVS (Surgery; Emergency and Critical Care Medicine)