What is Right Auricle Resection?

The right auricle is a chamber that is situated on the side of the right atrium of the dog's heart. The purpose of this chamber is to expand and contract along with the atrium, allowing the heart to withstand higher fluid pressures before damage to the muscle tissue of the organ starts to occur. Due to its natural flexibility, the auricle is composed of relatively thin tissue that relies on a high level of elasticity to avoid sustaining damage. However, in certain cases, damage to the heart can result in the auricle becoming compromised, leading to a risk that the rest of the heart may become affected by whatever condition is causing the problem. To prevent this, the vet may choose to perform a 'resection', whereby they cut away the damaged part of the auricle and fix the remaining parts back together. By not removing completely, they will at least be leaving it with some degree of remaining function.

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Right Auricle Resection Procedure in Dogs

Prior to operating on the heart, the vet will have to sedate the dog with a general anesthetic (usually delivered in the form of gas). The dog will then have a patch on its chest shaved and disinfected in order to provide a clean environment for the vet to operate in. Next, the vet will make an incision through the skin and tissues of the chest just above the breastbone, exposing the sternum and allowing them to easily cut through using a saw to reveal the heart beneath. Once the heart is exposed, the surgeon will cut through the membranes surrounding it in order to reach the auricle. The heart will then be connected to a heart-bypass machine, which will circulate the blood whilst the animal is in surgery. The dog will then have the diseased tissue cut out of the auricle and the remaining pieces attached back together, allowing the heart to be re-connected to the blood supply. Next, the surgeon will suture the dog's wounds shut, using wires or screws to fix the sternum back in place. In most cases, the procedure will take a couple of hours to complete due to the many steps involved.

Efficacy of Right Auricle Resection in Dogs

Performing a resection of an auricle is generally not regarded as a good method of treatment by most vets. This is because the surgery typically exposes the dog to a high level of risk, both of death during the procedure and of developing severe internal bleeding after the fact. This is mainly due to the extremely delicate tissues present in the auricle, which can often prove hard to properly heal. Additionally, cancers of the auricle will often end up resurfacing in other parts of the body after being surgically removed. Instead, vets usually prefer to use alternative treatments to treat tumors in the auricle, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy as well as antimetastatic drugs in order to prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body.

Right Auricle Resection Recovery in Dogs

Following the operation, the dog will have to have its physical activity restricted as much as possible for several weeks. This is to ensure that the heart will not be overtaxed by strenuous exercise, resulting in an opening of the surgical incision and the development of internal bleeding. Furthermore, the dog will have to receive regular doses of antibiotics and painkillers until the incisions have fully healed. The vet will want to schedule follow-up appointments in order to ascertain the animal's rate of recovery and administer any additional treatment that may be necessary.

Cost of Right Auricle Resection in Dogs

A right auricle resection can be quite a costly procedure, due in large part to the fact that heart surgery is extremely complex and can take up a significant amount of time. It is not unusual for such an operation to cost in excess of $2,500, with the price rising because of factors such as old age, blood disorders and the presence of other health conditions. By way of contrast, alternative means of treating tumors in the heart are far less expensive on a case-by-case basis, with courses of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and antimetastatic drugs costing several hundred dollars each, depending on the exact type and the availability of such treatments in a given area.

Dog Right Auricle Resection Considerations

Due to the dubious effectiveness of the auricle resection surgery, it is unsurprising that many owners would have misgivings about allowing their pet to undergo the procedure. The most common worry is that following the operation, the auricle could tear open and allow blood to exit the heart and enter the chest cavity. This is quite a justified fear, as the thin and delicate tissue that makes up the auricle membrane can easily become damaged, contributing to the relatively low survival rate of the procedure. It is also a source of consternation that the procedure does not often guarantee that cancer will not spread to other areas of the body, making it necessary to pursue further treatment such as chemotherapy after the surgery in any case.

Right Auricle Resection Prevention in Dogs

Infections of the kind that threaten the tissues of the heart are often caused by penetrating wounds to the chest cavity, most commonly caused by either attacks by other animals or the dog swallowing sharp objects. The best way to prevent both of these scenarios is proper training that makes the dog act responsibly when dealing with unknown animals or investigating new objects. Likewise, keeping the dog's living area tidy will prevent them from swallowing man-made things such as hard plastics or building materials. Cancer, meanwhile, is much harder to predict. This is because many forms of the disease are hereditary and may not show up on standard genetic screening. Nonetheless, such screening can be valuable, as it allows owners to keep a lookout for the symptoms of the more common types of tumors.