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What are Retrobulbar Abscess?

Like many other carnivores, canines have an incomplete orbit for their eyes. This allows for the carnivore to open its mouth wider, but also leaves the orbital socket unprotected by the bony floor that we have protecting ours. This leaves canines, and other such carnivores, more susceptible to trauma and infections to the eye. Infections and foreign objects in the eye cavity can cause eye bulging and damage to the ocular nerve. When the infection causes a pocket to form behind the eyeball itself, it is known as a retrobulbar abscess.

Retrobulbar abscess occurs when an infection or intrusion causes a pus filled cavity to form behind the eyeball. This disorder requires veterinary care to mend.

Retrobulbar Abscess Average Cost

From 463 quotes ranging from $750 - $2,000

Average Cost

$950

Symptoms of Retrobulbar Abscess in Dogs

Although the retrobulbar abscess is actually located behind the eye, the pain seems to spring from the jaw, due to the proximity of the orbital cavity to the jaw. Signs include:

  • Bulging eye
  • Discharge from around the eye
  • Fever
  • Foul breath
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain on eating
  • Redness around eye
  • Reluctance or refusal to chew
  • Squinting
  • Swelling around eye
  • Unilateral nasal discharge
  • Yelping when mouth is opened

Types 

Abscesses are not the only thing that can invade the area behind the eyeball. There are a few diseases and disorders that can affect the area behind the eye. Although many of the symptoms are similar, they tend to vary on the amount of pain, pressure, and growth rate. Differentials include:

  • Cysts
  • Hemorrhage
  • Mucocele
  • Neoplasia
  • Parasitic infection
  • Tumor

There are also other disorders that have many of the same basic symptoms as a retrobulbar abscess, but with slightly different origins. These can include disorders such as: 

  • Craniomandibular osteopathy
  • Extraocular polymyositis
  • Masticatory muscle myositis
  • Physical trauma
  • Various vascular anomalies
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Causes of Retrobulbar Abscess in Dogs

Adjacent Infections

Infections of the sinus cavities and in the gums can travel to the eye and cause abscesses. 

Foreign Object

Abscesses caused by foreign objects occur more frequently during dry months. This is usually caused by a splinter or other types of dry, pointed plant material. These fragments of wood or dried bits of plant material can get caught in the back teeth, then migrate to the orbital socket, where it lodges. Pus generally forms in the orbital socket, and bacterial and fungal infections can also develop.

Penetrating Trauma

Infections can also be introduced to the retrobulbar area through penetrating trauma through the roof of the mouth.

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Diagnosis of Retrobulbar Abscess in Dogs

The symptoms that are present with a retrobulbar abscess in dogs will prompt a thorough eye exam to be completed. The cornea will be checked for ulceration and the pressure within the eye will also be measured. Pus that is found behind the eye will usually be evaluated for the presence of pathogens as well. Standard tests, such as a complete blood count, urinalysis, and biochemical profile, will usually be completed at this time to check for systemic infections and other concurrent disorders. 

The mouth area will be carefully examined and evaluated. Sometimes the pain in the mouth and jaw area necessitates sedation or anesthesia in order to complete this evaluation. Both x-ray and ultrasound technology are frequently used to better visualize the space behind the eye as well as the bones around the eye. These forms of imaging can help to discover not only abscesses but also to evaluate growths and to determine the health of the underlying bone structure.

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Treatment of Retrobulbar Abscess in Dogs

The first step in treating a retrobulbar abscess is to drain the abscess from the orbital cavity. This is accomplished by a surgical procedure, in which an incision is made in the top of the mouth, behind the last molar. The surgeon will then allow the abscess to drain completely, ensuring that none of the infected material falls down into the throat.

Any foreign objects that do not flush out with the pus from the incision will also be removed at this time, and the wound is left open during healing to ensure no new infections are allowed to collect in the area. If an infection is found when the discharge is cultured, then medication will be given to counter it. Bacterial infection is more common and would be treated with antibiotics. The antibiotic therapy is frequently started intravenously at the clinic, then changed over to orally administered antibiotic therapy and is generally quite successful. Fungal infections are treated with antifungal medication and can take longer to resolve.

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Recovery of Retrobulbar Abscess in Dogs

After oral surgery, as with the drainage of a retrobulbar abscess, most pets will be able to eat fairly effectively again within just 6-12 hours, but canned food or moistened kibble is advised to avoid pain for 10 to 14 days, and there is likely to be more salivation and mess than usual as your dog’s mouth is healing. If any antibiotic or antifungal medications were prescribed, it is essential to complete the full course in order to prevent a reoccurrence of the infection. With most antibiotics that can be around 2-3 weeks and courses of antifungal treatment can be even longer.

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Retrobulbar Abscess Average Cost

From 463 quotes ranging from $750 - $2,000

Average Cost

$950

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Retrobulbar Abscess Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Lou lou

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Pekingese

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7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Bulging

I have a pekingese. She's been with me since she was a puppy. Recently I noticed her cry whenever she yawned. It's hard to tell if her eye is swollen but I can notice there is some pressure in her right eye. I think she may have retrobublbar abscess... Im super tight on money. I barely have enough for me, my family, and my dog. I don't think I can afford any of this. What is the best option to do if my dog does have retrobublbar absecess.

July 28, 2018

Lou lou's Owner

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1 Recommendations

Without examining Lou Lou I cannot confirm whether there is a retrobulbar abscess or another cause for bulging eye, at a minimum you should visit a charity or low cost clinic to have the issue looked at and diagnosed so you know for certain whether it is a retrobulbar abscess or something else. I cannot give you any specific at home advice as I cannot confirm a cause and this type of abscess wouldn’t be something to treat at home. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 29, 2018

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Leo

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Great Dane

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6 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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4 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Will a dog go blind if he has a retrobulbar abscess? The vet thinks my puppy may have this and after seeing the comments I'm very worried that he will lose his vision in that eye. He was put on Cipro and told to come back in two weeks.

Nov. 11, 2017

Leo's Owner

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4 Recommendations

Whilst vision loss is a concern, early treatment with broad spectrum antibiotics, antiinflammatories and artificial tears (to keep the eye lubricated) is the initial treatment of choice; treatment usually occurs over a month and your Veterinarian will check Leo after two weeks to see if there is any improvement in the symptoms. In some cases, surgery is indicated where the abscess is drained from the mouth; this can be discussed with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Nov. 11, 2017

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Retrobulbar Abscess Average Cost

From 463 quotes ranging from $750 - $2,000

Average Cost

$950

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