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How Effective Is Lateral Ear Canal Resection In Dogs?

Did you know approximately 70% of US households have pets, and 88 percent consider them part of their family? Let’s discuss some other statistics too.  Undoubtedly, the Americans were already passionate about keeping pets, i.e., dogs and cats. But now, this trend has witnessed a surge after the ongoing pandemic. 

According to a survey conducted by the ASPCA, almost 23 million American households have welcomed new pets into their family since the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Which clearly shows the people’s love and appreciation for these furry friends. The major reason behind this increasing trend is that pets positively impact our lives. Different studies and research have clearly shown that pets, particularly dogs, are the animals' best friends. In addition, they play a crucial role in reducing the stress level of their owners.

Moreover, it's also a fact that they need us as much as we need them. Undoubtedly, pets play an important role in keeping our overall wellbeing, but what about their health. If you own a pet, just think for a while. Do you pay appropriate attention to your pets? Do you have basic knowledge about the possibilities of the diseases that your dog or cat might suffer? If not, then it's not too late. You should start paying attention to your dogs’ health from today. If so, then you are at the right place. Our series of articles include the various surgical procedures related to the health of cats and dogs. 

After a detailed discussion with the veterinary experts, we will discuss the must-know details of the Lateral Ear Canal Resection. This surgical procedure is also performed to treat the abnormal growth of the tumors in the dogs’ ear canals. 

Common Ear Diseases

External and middle ear diseases are very common in cats and dogs. It has been estimated that chronic otitis externa alone is the reason for almost 10% of admissions to small animal hospitals. Unfortunately, the statistics are worsening day by day. The careless behavior towards the pets could be one of the reasons behind the ear complication in the dogs or cats. Because pet parents (humans) don’t pay attention, ear diseases might go unnoticed most of the time. Which eventually results in the development of several complications such as; irreversible structural changes. Which can only be cured with aggressive surgeries. 

But sometimes, pet owners don’t want their pets to undergo an aggressive procedure due to the several fears in their minds. They must understand that cancerous tumors in the dogs’ ear canals cannot be treated without surgeries like lateral ear canal resection, toral ear canal ablation, etc. Before moving forward, let’s discuss the situations in which surgery becomes the only option. 

  • Neoplastic or severe conditions affect the horizontal and vertical portions of the ear canal or the presence of the tympanic bullae.
  • Unsuccessful medical therapies and treatments to cure the disease. 


What is Lateral Ear Canal Resection?

Veterinarians recommend lateral ear canal resection surgery when dogs suffer from a chronic infection developed on the outer ear. More importantly, such surgeries are performed when simple treatments and medications fail to treat such conditions. During this surgical procedure, surgeons remove one side of the external ear canal. Which eventually improves the drainage and ventilation. According to the experts, dogs with long ears are more prone to otitis externa. But they can benefit from this procedure if the ear canal is sufficiently open and the ear's structure is undamaged.

However, in case of permanent damage to the ear canal, later ear canal resection may not be enough to address the problem. In addition to this, this procedure doesn’t guarantee the complete elimination of future ear infections. But it can make the infection less common and treatable. 

Surgical Procedure

  • Before performing the surgery, the active infection in the ear is treated with antibiotics and cleaning. 
  • Surgeons give the required quantity of anesthesia under controlled circumstances. Which makes the dogs immobilize during surgical procedures. 
  • Excessive hairs are removed, and the ear is cleaned to ensure the maximum visibility of the surgical site. The best thing surgeons can do is insert cotton in the dog’s ear, which will prevent the draining of debris and detergent into the ear canal.   
  • Moreover, veterinarian professionals flush the ear with an antiseptic solution that minimizes contamination. 
  • During the surgery, veterinarians make parallel incisions in the cranial and caudal aspects of the lateral portion of the vertical ear canal. Moreover, infected tissues that cannot be treated with the medication are removed. 

Efficacy of This Procedure: 

Almost every pet owner planning to get their pets hospitalized for this surgery is curious about the success rate of lateral ear canal resection. Let’s be honest! The procedure is highly dependent on the severity of the disease. As per the experts’ opinions, dogs’ breeds such as cocker spaniels usually get severe ear infections and may require more invasive surgeries to treat the conditions.  

Health care professionals don’t recommend this surgery if the ear's structure gets damaged or in the presence of calcification. However, if this surgery fails to address the problems completely, then your dog may have to undergo future surgeries as well. For example, total ear ablation or lateral tympanic bulla osteotomy are performed if lateral ear canal resection is unsuccessful.

Nevertheless, decreased chances of fungal, bacterial infection, humidity, moisture, and better air circulation, are some of the major benefits of lateral ear canal resection. In addition to this, it also improves the draining, which eventually results in reduced accumulation of secretion from the ear. Therefore, this procedure also helps medical practitioners minimize the infection and maximize the chances of treating the infections in a more successful and better way. 

Postoperative Care

  • Dogs are given topical antibiotic steroids. 
  • The ears are taped over the head.
  • E-collar is placed to prevent self-trauma.  
  • Usually, sutures are removed after 14 days.  

Pet owners should follow the instructions of healthcare professionals and give critical care and, more importantly, attention to their pets. 

Potential Complications Associated With Lateral Ear Canal Resection

  • Irreversible changes can occur due to surgery failure.
  • Concurrent otitis media can present
  • Horizontal canal restriction
  • Defecation of the surgical process may arise for several days
  • Partial wound separation of the stitches is common

Moreover, it is also important for pet owners to visit certified and well-experienced veterinarians for their pets’ surgeries.