Partial Glossectomy in Cats

Partial Glossectomy in Cats - Conditions Treated, Procedure, Efficacy, Recovery, Cost, Considerations, Prevention

What is Partial Glossectomy?

A partial glossectomy in cats is a form of tongue surgery involving amputating a portion of the lingual organ. Surgery of a cat’s tongue is commonly performed as a treatment of malignant or benign tumors. In cats, the squamous cell carcinoma is the most highly reported tumor type to affect felines. Oral carcinomas are fast-growing and the prognosis is grave if the problem is not identified promptly. A veterinarian can identify this type of growth under routine physical examination or during a dental cleaning. The feline doctor will then either schedule a date to perform the glossectomy procedure or refer you to a feline oral specialist.

Partial Glossectomy Procedure in Cats

A partial glossectomy in cats involves an amputation of the tongue roughly 2cm caudal to the lingual lesions. The veterinarian will begin by using a surgical marker to mark the proposed site of glossectomy. To aid in the prevention of hemorrhaging, a Doyen clamp will be placed caudal to the site of resection. The veterinarian begins the amputation of one side of the tongue, ligating the lingual vessels as the doctor comes upon them and advancing the incision. Sutures are placed intermittently focusing on suturing the dorsal aspect to the ventral aspect of the tongue’s mucosa. 

The partially dissected tongue will likely be biopsied and sent to a laboratory. Collaborations with an oncologist will likely be sought later on as the histopathological results are made. 

Efficacy of Partial Glossectomy in Cats

The efficacy of a feline partial glossectomy has good results for the resection of a lingual tumor. If the resection is confined to the dorsocaudal or free rostral portions of the tongue, the prognosis remains very positive.

Partial Glossectomy Recovery in Cats

After the partial glossectomy is performed, postoperative pain is controlled through a combination of long-acting anesthetics, opioids, and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Antibiotics are not necessary if the feline is otherwise healthy, but a broad-spectrum antibiotic may be given to those with underlying disease. Water will be offered to the patient after anesthesia and the feline will be allowed a soft food diet 12 to 24 hours after surgery. Felines are often given an esophagostomy tube, which allows food to pass the oral cavity directly into the stomach, to ensure proper nutrition. If skin sutures were placed, the feline will be reexamined at two weeks postoperatively and a follow-up appointment will take place at about two to six months after the initial examination. 

Cost of Partial Glossectomy in Cats

The price a cat owner should expect to pay for a partial glossectomy in cats is about $325. Any biopsied tissues and postoperative medications should be added to this total surgical price, which is roughly an extra $50 to $100. 

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Cat Partial Glossectomy Considerations

When considering a partial glossectomy in a cat, pet owners should be aware of possible surgical complications such as grooming difficulties, heat stress, tongue necrosis, ptyalism, prehension difficulties, postoperative dehiscence, and/or intraoperative hemorrhaging. Although common, the majority of the listed complications are short-lived and most cats adapt to the surgically altered lingual area. 

Partial Glossectomy Prevention in Cats

Preventing the need for a feline partial glossectomy is difficult, as the cause of cancer is unknown. Nearly 10% of all feline tumors are found in the oral cavity with squamous cell carcinomas being the most common type to inflict felines. These types of tumors are fast growing and the prognosis is grave, so early detection is vital in all cases. 

Partial Glossectomy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


Domestic shorthair




10 Years


1 found this helpful


1 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Part Of Tongue Has Turned Black
What would cause part of a cat's tongue to become necrotic and is there any treatment for this condition? Cat has CKD and developed ulcers on his tongue and was put on Sucralfate to treat that. Now part of the tongue has tuned black and the vet has said his "tongue is dying," but no explanation. I have googled tongue necrosis without finding any information about what could cause this or what can be done to treat it. It is not a cancerous lesion.

June 8, 2018

1 Recommendations

The tongue may turn necrotic in cases of kidney failure due to secondary infection of the oral ulcers or from a disruption of the blood supply to the tongue due to a clot or other cause. There isn’t really any treatment apart from surgical intervention, you should discuss the issue with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 9, 2018

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