Total Ear Canal Ablation (Removal of Ear Canal) in Dogs

Ear canal ablation surgery entails removing the entire canal. The procedure is performed as a last result in dogs with chronic ear infections or with tumors inside the canal. Persistent ear infections can cause foul odor, hearing loss, facial paralysis and extreme pain to your dog. The cost of repeat veterinary visits and prescription medications can become problematic to pet owners.

Tests Performed Before a Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA)

Before a TECA surgery is performed, your veterinarian will take CT scans of the ear. This is done to view the size and location of a tumor or to find out how narrow the ear canals have become. During the CT scan, your dog will be sedated to reduce stress.

If the dog has a current ear infection, the vet may take a culture. If there is pus behind the ear drum, antibiotics are necessary to kill any bacteria. The pus will be removed and flushed out prior to the surgery.

Blood and urine tests are done to ensure the dog has no underlying health conditions. The blood panel can help veterinarians understand if your dog will be able to withstand the anesthesia used during the surgical procedure.

Your vet will need to check to see if repeat ear infections have impaired cranial nerve function. If this occurs, dogs frequently lose the ability to blink, and lubricating eye drops might be advisable. By diagnosing nerve disease prior to the surgery, the doctor is able to best inform the pet owner. Nerve impairment that is already present cannot be reversed. Nerve impairment that occurs during the surgery is temporary and will improve.

How Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA) Is Done

The first step to a TECA surgery is to administer anesthesia. Your dog's vital signs will be monitored throughout the surgery. The hair surrounding the ear is shaved. The entire area, including the canal, is rinsed with an antibacterial liquid to reduce the risk of contamination during surgery.

Surgical incisions are made on each side of the ear canal and the entire section is surgically removed. Bones in the middle ear and the ear drum are also removed. The tympanic bone is exposed and any scar tissue or cellular tissue is scraped off that bone. The goal is to remove all potential contamination so the remaining area is as sterile as possible. A drain is often added during the healing process, allowing the inner ear to drain.

Your dog's head is bandaged to prevent infection. He's then placed in a Victorian collar and given pain medications and antibiotics while the ears heal.

Risks of TECA Surgery

TECA surgery is risky. Inflammation of the inner ear following the surgery can put pressure on the throat, making it harder to breathe. Inflammation may push against the veins providing blood to the ear flaps. If this happens, the ear flap tissue may die and will need to be removed surgically.

In a small number of dogs, drainage from the incision doesn't stop, because a salivary gland was damaged during surgery or cells remained on the tympanic bone. If this occurs, another ear canal surgery will be necessary.