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The ear is comprised of inner, middle, and external portions. The inner ear is responsible for balance and the connection of sound waves to the brain. The middle ear contains the tympanic bulla and ear drum. The external portions contain the ear canal and the pinna. A total ear canal ablation is the surgical removal of the entire ear canal. A second procedure, called a bulla osteotomy, is performed during the same surgery. By opening and clearing the bulla of all infected material combined with the ear canal removal, the chances of future infection are greatly decreased.

Ear canal removal is most commonly performed in Spaniel breeds, in which chronic ear infections often occur. Chronic ear pain may lead to lethargy, inappetance, and frequent scratching at the ear. Once medical therapy is no longer effective in controlling ear canal infections, surgical removal of the entire ear canal is indicated to eliminate the pain and bad odor that is associated with this condition. Total ear canal ablation is the treatment of choice in most cases of cancer within the external ear canal. Depending on the aggressiveness of the tumor, removing the ear canal along with the tumor can be curative.

The sense of hearing will be decreased following surgery; however, many owners do not notice a significant change. Patients typically have a history of diminished hearing prior to surgery due to chronic inflammation and thickening of the ear canal. Temporary damage to the facial nerve may occur during surgery, which leads to a loss of the blink reflex for two to four weeks, so eye lubrication is required to moisten and protect the eye. Permanent facial nerve damage is possible but rare. Infection and/or abscess formation may occur up to two years after surgery; the risk of this occurring is 5 to 10 percent. Other less common complications include signs of inner ear disease (circling, head tilt, abnormal eye movement) and difficulty eating due to jaw pain. Most of these complications resolve with time and rest.
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Surgery

What Is A Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon?

A board certified veterinary surgeon is a licensed veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional surgical training. A veterinary surgeon can offer special assistance in the following kinds of cases:

  • Traumatic injury and emergencies (such as fractures, skin wounds and lacerations, correction of gastric dilatation-volvulus, and exploratory (abdominal/thoracic) surgery
  • Orthopedic surgeries (such as total hip replacements (THRs), cruciate ligament surgeries (TPLOs), and arthroscopy for joint exploration).
  • Soft tissue surgeries (such as tumor/cancer removal and correction of congenital defects).
  • Neurological surgeries (such as herniated discs and spinal injuries).
  • Trust VCA's Veterinary Surgeons with Your Cat or Dog's Veterinary Surgery
  • If your cat or dog needs veterinary surgery, you can't afford to get anything but the best. Read more about how VCA's team of veterinary surgeons can help your pet survive veterinary surgery.

While your general practitioner veterinarian can diagnose and treat many health problems, certain diseases and conditions require the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive surgical training in order to provide the very best outcome for your pet. Your veterinary surgeon will work closely with your general practitioner veterinarian, as well as'"depending on your pet's condition'"other board certified specialists in internal medicine, veterinary oncology, veterinary neurology, and veterinary radiology.


Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Surgeon?

Just as your own primary care physician may feel the need to refer you to the care of a specialist from time to time, your general practitioner veterinarian may feel your pet needs the additional expertise of a board certified surgeon for certain surgeries. In fact, many general practitioner veterinarians refer all but the most routine of surgeries to specialists'"orthopedic and neurology cases, reconstructive surgeries, tumor removals, etc.

Board certified veterinary surgeons also are often affiliated with referral hospitals where they may have access to specialized diagnostic or surgical equipment, the latest and safest anesthesia monitoring equipment, physical therapy or rehabilitation capabilities, and other critical care services that a general practitioner may not have access to. All of these specialized services may be necessary for the optimal care and recovery of your pet.

You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when to refer you and your pet to a veterinary surgeon is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of care for his or her problem.

What Kinds of Problems Require the Expertise of a Veterinary Surgeon?

Board certified veterinary surgeons can repair complex fractures, perform total hip replacements, and use advanced techniques to repair torn ligaments (ruptured cruciate ligaments) within the knee. They can also remove cancerous growths, manage extensive or non-healing wounds, and perform reconstructive surgery, such as grafting skin over large injuries. Veterinary surgeons can perform intricate surgeries in the chest or abdomen, such as kidney transplants in cats or repairing heart defects in dogs. Spinal injuries and herniated discs are problems that are also commonly referred to board certified surgeons. Veterinary surgery is also expanding into minimally invasive surgery, such as arthroscopy, thorascopy, and laparoscopy.


Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

In many if not most surgical cases, your regular veterinarian will still supervise your pet's veterinary care, especially if your pet is continuing to cope with a disease or chronic condition. It depends on your pet's particular disease and health problem, however. Typically, though, your general practitioner veterinarian will oversee many aspects of your pet's pre-op and post-op care, just as in human medicine. Recovery periods are often prolonged in many surgical cases, particularly in orthopedic surgery, and it is very important to follow your veterinary team's recommendations concerning at-home recovery guidelines for your pet, follow up care and appointments, as well as any rehabilitation that has been prescribed.

Did You Know?

Just as in humans, a pet's recovery from veterinary surgery can go more smoothly or even result in a better outcome with the addition of rehabilitation options. Many veterinary referral hospitals offer rehabilitation services, such as water therapy, physical therapy, and massage therapy, as an adjunct to surgical care.

If you think that your pet may be a candidate for veterinary surgery, talk to your general practitioner veterinarian, or find a board certified veterinary surgeon near you today.

Our Surgery Services

Advanced Anesthetic Monitoring
Bone and Joint Surgery
Bone Biopsy
Brain and Spinal Surgery

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