What is Dorsal Rhinotomy?

Dorsal rhinotomy is the surgical opening of your dog's nasal cavity from the dorsal, or top, of the nose. This procedure is not commonly performed due to advances in endoscopic procedures that resolve nasal blockages with a less invasive procedure and poor prognosis for treating malignant growths with dorsal rhinotomy. However, dorsal rhinotomy may be performed if blockages or narrowing of the nasal passages occurs from infection, foreign objects, or abnormal cell growth that cannot be treated with other methods. If required, your veterinarian performs this surgery under general anesthetic and it may be done in conjunction with a turbinectomy if turbine bones in the nasal cavity are also affected.

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Dorsal Rhinotomy Procedure in Dogs

Your dog will be required to fast prior to this surgery as general anesthetic will be used. An examination of your dog to ensure they are not experiencing conditions that would cause anesthetic to present a risk to your pet will be performed prior to surgery. Anesthetic will be administered intravenously and then by intubation tube with gas for the duration of the procedure. The top of your dog's nose will be shaved and cleaned prior to surgical incision. Once prepared, your veterinary surgeon will make an incision on the top of your dog's nose to open up the nasal cavity. Damaged tissues and bones will be removed if required (turbinectomy). Blockages such as growths or foreign objects will be removed. If growths are removed they will be collected and sent for analysis at a laboratory to identify cells present. The nasal cavity will be repaired. There is a significant amount of bleeding that occurs with this procedure and your veterinarian will have to ensure that bleeding has ceased prior to closing the incision with sutures. 

Your dog may be hospitalized for one to two days for observation, especially if breathing issues are possible or supportive care is required. 

Efficacy of Dorsal Rhinotomy in Dogs

This surgery is quite invasive, prone to complications, and is associated with poor survival rates in the treatment of malignant growths in the nasal passages. Alternative endoscopic procedures are usually favored for removal of damaged tissues or blockages in the nose. However, in certain circumstances this procedure may be necessary to address nasal blockages and can be effective for removal of benign blockages.

Dorsal Rhinotomy Recovery in Dogs

Your dog will need to recover from the administration of anesthetic, which will mean limiting food intake until risk of vomiting is minimized and provided rest and warmth. You will need to ensure your dog does not scratch the nasal incision and an e-collar accompanied by careful monitoring will be required. The incision must be monitored for signs of abnormal discharge or infection. Also, carefully watch your dog's respiration to ensure breathing is not affected and get veterinary attention immediately if breathing problems occur. Your veterinarian will provide postoperative painkillers and possibly anti-inflammatories or antibiotics if deemed necessary. Be sure to administer all medication as directed by your veterinarian. Follow-up to examine healing and remove stitches by your veterinarian will be scheduled.

Cost of Dorsal Rhinotomy in Dogs

This surgical procedure requires general anesthetic and aftercare and can cost between $1,000 and $2,000 depending on the degree of intervention required and the cost of living in your region.

Dog Dorsal Rhinotomy Considerations

Dorsal rhinotomy is associated with poor survival rates as a treatment for nose cancer and may not be appropriate; discuss with your veterinarian. Due to high vascularization in the area, hemorrhage is common, and may need to be addressed during the procedure. Due to anesthetic and associated risks present with airway passage surgery, aspiration during the procedure or post-procedure is present. Chronic nasal discharge is frequently observed as a complication of dorsal rhinotomy. Predisposition to conditions such as pneumocephalus, a condition in which air becomes trapped in cranial cavities, and sinusitis where infection in sinus cavities occurs is also associated with this procedure. Careful monitoring and veterinary care to address postoperative conditions will be required.

Dorsal Rhinotomy Prevention in Dogs

Nasal cancer may be associated with exposure to pollution or smoking in the home. Ensuring your dog is not exposed to smoking in an enclosed area may reduce the likelihood of this disease manifesting in your dog. Keeping watch of your dog while playing and ensuring they do not have access to small objects or debris that could become lodged in your dog's nasal cavity will reduce the instances of veterinary intervention required to address nasal blockage. If your dog experiences nasal infection or discharge, acquire veterinary care to address before disease of the nasal passages becomes problematic.