What is Partial Pinnectomy?

Partial pinnectomy is a surgical procedure that is most commonly used to treat cancer of the external ear, known as the pinna. This is sometimes also referred to as the auricle. The pinna is an extension of the auricular cartilage, a small portion of connective tissue, and is covered with skin. The size and shape of the pinna will vary depending on the dog’s breed and size. The pinna is responsible for transporting sound to the middle ear.

Partial pinnectomy is a simple, relatively non-invasive procedure in which part of the pinna is removed. This will mean part of the dog’s ear will be amputated. This procedure may be performed using a scalpel. However, laser surgery has proven more effective in dogs with pinnal squamous cell sarcoma in particular.

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Partial Pinnectomy Procedure in Dogs

  1. The dog may be anesthetized using general or local anesthesia or sedated.
  2. The surgeon will first clip the pinna before thoroughly cleaning the skin and flushing the ear canal with a cleanser and saline solution.
  3. The surgeon will first use a scalpel, laser, or surgical scissors to make a full thickness incision into the skin and cartilage of the inner part of the pinna.
  4. The surgeon will then trim down any portions of cartilage protruding from the incision.
  5. Another incision will then be made through the outer part of the pinna.
  6. The surgeon will then suture the outer edges of the pinna to the edge of the cartilage before suturing the skin edges together, closing the wound.
  7. Following surgery, the dog will be given an Elizabethan collar to ensure it does not irritate the surgery site.

Efficacy of Partial Pinnectomy in Dogs

Partial pinnectomy is typically very successful and does not usually present postoperative complications apart from minor crusting of the surgery site. Laser surgery in particular reduces the likelihood of cancer recurrence. The prognosis for dogs undergoing partial pinnectomy usually ranges from good to excellent, and dogs are allowed to go home following completion of the surgery.

Partial Pinnectomy Recovery in Dogs

Recovering from partial pinnectomy is usually straightforward and carries low risk of complications. The dog will need to wear an Elizabethan collar as instructed by the veterinary surgeon until the surgery site has completely healed. A follow-up appointment may be required to remove sutures if they are not absorbable. Crusting of the surgery site is normal during the recovery period.

For dogs that have undergone partial pinnectomy to treat squamous cell carcinoma or another type of malignant cancer, owners should consider applying dog-safe sunscreen to the skin or limiting their dog’s outdoor activity to prevent recurrence.

Cost of Partial Pinnectomy in Dogs

The cost of partial pinnectomy will vary based on how the surgery is performed as well as any additional veterinary costs incurred. The average cost of the surgery itself is approximately $210. Total costs can range from $210 to $1,000 depending on the area and extra costs incurred for postoperative care and medications.

Dog Partial Pinnectomy Considerations

Current veterinary literature does not suggest that additional treatment methods, such as chemotherapy and radiation, are required for squamous cell carcinoma of the pinna. Some owners may choose to have partial pinnectomy performed for cosmetic reasons. Most veterinarians are opposed to this for obvious reasons. Though partial pinnectomy is not generally a complex surgery, removing part of a dog’s pinna can cause them to become more sensitive to sound. There is also a greater risk that dirt and debris will collect in the ear as a result of the amputation. This procedure should only be performed to correct an injury or condition, never for cosmetic reasons.

Partial Pinnectomy Prevention in Dogs

Ensure your dog is not exposed to excessive amounts of sunlight, especially if it is a breed that is predisposed for squamous cell carcinoma. Never apply sunscreen made exclusively for human use to your dog, as it typically contains zinc oxide, which is toxic to dogs. Only purchase sunscreen from a trusted pet health retailer or veterinary pharmacy, and always use as directed.