Vol 11 No 1

Winter 2009

Front Page

Features in this Issue:

Rusty's Story

Ear Ablation Surgery

How Do I Love Thee?

Dear Santa

Recent Adoptions

Thank You

Fond Farewells

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Tales of Gold

What is Total Ear Ablation Surgery?

Canine Ear ModelThe surgical procedure that Maverick underwent is called a Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA) and Bulla Osteotomy.  Simply stated, this is the total removal of the ear canal.  Maverick endured years of untreated, painful ear infections.  These chronic infections caused his ear canal to thicken and narrow as the tissue calcified and turned to bone.  Repeated  attempts to flush the infection from the ear canal and properly clean and medicate it were totally ineffective.  A closer examination while under anesthesia confirmed his ear drum had ruptured, exposing his middle ear to infection as well.  The lower part of the canal, called the horizontal canal, was totally closed.  Surgical removal was the only option.

Four days prior to the surgery Maverick was given a daily dose of a Chinese herb called Yunnan Paiyao.  Yunnan Paiyao is sometimes referred to as a miracle drug for wounds, pain and hemorrhage.  It heals oozing wounds and damaged blood vessels while expelling pus and counteracting toxins.  An additional dose was administered the morning of the surgery and was used again in powder form during the surgery.

Maverick received a physical examination prior to admission and his senior comprehensive panel blood work and chest radiographs were reviewed as well.

Dr. Martin DeAngelis, Diplomate ACVS (American College of Veterinary Surgeons), of Village Animal Clinic in Ardsley, New York, performed the surgery on December 9th.  Village Animal Clinic is one of our “rescue-friendly” veterinarians that assist with the medical care for our Goldens by providing discounted fees for their services.

While under anesthesia, the ear flap and head were shaved, and a slim probe with a camera attached was inserted into the ear canal.  The ear canal was flushed with a Betadine solution to remove as much pus and infected material as possible.  This was done to reduce the possibility of contamination of the normal healthy tissue.

An incision was made along the side of his head exposing the vertical ear canal (which begins at the base of the ear flap), horizontal ear canal, the ruptured ear drum and the middle ear (bulla).  The ear canal was removed in one intact piece.  The bulla was opened up and the infected tissue was scraped away (Bulla Osteotomy).  An external drain was inserted into the surgical incision to ensure that any accumulated fluids would be expelled from his body and not drain into his neck.  Intravenous pain medication and antibiotics were administered over the course of the next three days.  Suture removal is normally scheduled for three weeks post surgery.

The illustration depicts a total ear ablation.  The thatched area shows the portion that was surgically removed.

Maverick spent three days in the hospital. Two of our volunteers visited him daily and were pleasantly surprised to see Maverick up and walking around the day after the surgery. His head was not bandaged (he was wearing an e-collar), he was bright-eyed and very alert.  Dr Zuckerman, his attending veterinarian, said that Maverick had built up such a high tolerance to the pain of the chronic infections that he did not require the full dose of pain medication and was not groggy as a result. He was given a homeopathic remedy to help his body shed the after effects of the anesthesia  and another to help with the incision healing.



Maverick’s ear flap was not damaged by any of the infections so it was not necessary to remove the flap.  Once his fur grows in, there will be no cosmetic impact to his appearance unless the ear flap is lifted.  The area under the flap where the opening to the ear canal would have been will be a closed smooth area.


Maverick has lost his hearing in that ear but the odds are that he had already become deaf due to the calcification and the ruptured ear drum.

Nothing is ever easy. A week after the surgery Maverick developed an infection at the top of the surgical site.  Dr. Zuckerman inserted a gauze “wick” soaked in diluted Betadine into the pocket to draw the pus out and enable healthy tissue to form.  Maverick stayed at a temporary foster home in Westchester so that he could be medically managed on a daily basis.  Warm compresses were applied several times a day to the entire surgical site and the area was cleaned with diluted green tea.  The gauze wick was changed daily and day by day the pocket was noticeably smaller, there was less pus and the new tissue being formed was pink and healthy. On day five he was cleared to go home with instructions for daily Betadine flushes to the outside of the ear only.

Quite often chronic ear infections can be caused by underlying allergies or endocrine diseases.  Dr. Zuckerman recommended that the Spectrum Lab Allergy test be done to identify the environmental and food allergens that Maverick is sensitive to.  This was approved by the GRRI Board and the results have been given to Maverick's family.

Maverick’s prognosis is excellent. His ongoing ear issues have been resolved.  His one remaining healthy ear will require diligent ear cleaning maintenance.  As soon as his allergy test results are back his diet will be adjusted as needed.

GRRI would like to thank the Animal Control Officer who responded to the call and seized this wonderful dog; to the shelter who provided his interim care and called GRRI; to the volunteers who performed his initial evaluation and transport; to both of his foster homes; to the GRRI Board of Directors for approving the cost for the care that was needed; to Dr. Susan Bahr of Hackettstown Animal Hospital for providing his pre-surgical care; to Dr. Martin DeAngelis and Dr. Joseph Zuckerman of Village Animal Clinic for his surgery and post-surgical care.

Special thanks goes to Dr. DeAngelis for approving such a deep rescue discount toward the surgical bill.

This article has been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Joseph Zuckerman of Village Animal Clinic