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What is Vertical Ear Canal Ablation?

Vertical ear canal ablation is a surgical procedure used to treat certain ear conditions that result in damage to or disease of the vertical ear canal. The procedure involves removing only the vertical part of the ear canal. Vertical ear canal ablation is usually only performed if the horizontal part of the ear canal is normal or intact. This procedure may be recommended where other types of therapy have failed to treat the condition. Vertical ear canal ablation will not result in the cat losing its hearing as the main hearing apparatus is left intact.

Vertical Ear Canal Ablation Procedure in Cats

  1. If infection is present, bacterial or fungal cultures may be taken preoperatively.
  2. The cat will then be anesthetized.
  3. The outer ear will be shaved, allowing for easier access.
  4. The surgeon may use a scalpel or laser to make a T-shaped incision perpendicular to the vertical ear canal.
  5. The vertical ear canal is then exposed, and the surgeon will continue making the incision, outlining the affected area.
  6. The surgeon will then use forceps to grab the surrounding skin and use the laser to separate the skin from the connective tissue.
  7. The surgeon will then use the laser to transect the vertical ear canal where it meets the horizontal ear canal and remove it.
  8. The horizontal ear canal and hearing apparatus will be left intact.
  9. The surgeon will then suture the inner incision shut before suturing the T-shaped incision shut.

Efficacy of Vertical Ear Canal Ablation in Cats

Vertical ear canal ablation is often incredibly effective in treating conditions that primarily affect the vertical ear canal. Removing the vertical part of the ear canal will also ensure better airflow and drainage in the horizontal part of the ear canal, which can help prevent future disease. Performing the surgery with a laser is also extremely effective, speeding up the recovery process for cats as well as minimizing postoperative pain and swelling.

Vertical Ear Canal Ablation Recovery in Cats

Following surgery, the cat will be required to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent it from irritating the surgery site. Owners may need to periodically apply a cold compress to the ear for a few days after surgery to prevent postoperative swelling. Analgesics are prescribed for general cases and antibiotics are usually prescribed for cases associated with bacterial or fungal infection. Medicated ear drops are also necessary to promote healing and prevent infection and scabbing following surgery. Two weeks after surgery, the owner will need to take the cat back to the vet to have the sutures removed. The Elizabethan collar should still be worn for a few days after suture removal. Another follow-up appointment will be required two months after the sutures are removed to ensure the surgery site has healed and the condition has not recurred.

Cost of Vertical Ear Canal Ablation in Cats

The cost of vertical ear canal ablation will vary depending on any additional costs incurred, including the costs of medications and supportive care. The cost of ear canal ablation ranges from $750 to $2,000 per ear.

Cat Vertical Ear Canal Ablation Considerations

Vertical ear canal ablation does not generally cause any complications following surgery. It should be noted that vertical ear canal ablation is effective in cases where other parts of the ear canal are not affected by trauma or disease. If the horizontal ear canal is also affected, a total ear canal ablation will usually be required to treat the underlying condition. This will involve the removal of the entire ear canal, and is a more invasive and complicated procedure compared to vertical ear canal ablation.

Vertical Ear Canal Ablation Prevention in Cats

Owners should ensure their cats don’t engage in activities that can cause severe traumatic injury to the inner ear. In some cases, severe otitis externa is caused by ear mites, parasites, or fleas. Owners should treat these conditions using topical medications or other medications as prescribed by their vet. It is often difficult to prevent cancer of the vertical ear canal or bacterial infection.