What is Temporary Tarsorrhaphy?

Temporary tarsorrhaphy is a surgical procedure of the eye, specifically the upper and lower eyelids. In this eye procedure, the veterinary surgeon will join part or all of the lower and upper eyelids, closing the eye. A temporary tarsorrhaphy is used after a complex corneal ulceration to both protect the cornea during the short healing period and to aid in orbital healing. The technique used to perform temporary tarsorrhaphy is usually a drawstring suture that pulls the top and bottom eyelids together for a short period of time. A tarsorrhaphy can also be permanent if the dog requires, but temporary tarsorrhaphy is the primary topic here. 

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Temporary Tarsorrhaphy Procedure in Dogs

Temporary tarsorrhaphy is described as a drawstring technique that allows the eye to be easily opened and closed to allow the veterinarian to examine the eye after the fact. The veterinary eye specialist surgeon will complete this temporary tarsorrhaphy procedure as follows: 

  1. An anesthetic will be injected into the upper and lower eyelids. 
  2. The area will be cleansed with iodine, while the bolster is prepared. The bolster is the device used to anchor the sutures for the Temporary Tarsorrhaphy. 
  3. Once the bolster is prepared with suture material, the surgeon will line up the device with the midline of the upper eyelid. 
  4. A second bolster will be prepared to align with the midline of the lower eyelid. 
  5. Once both bolsters are in place, the surgeon can create a drawstring through the top and bottom bolsters, moving the eyelids together as the strings are pulled. 

Efficacy of Temporary Tarsorrhaphy in Dogs

Temporary tarsorrhaphy is a highly effective form of protection for the cornea during the recovery period. Keeping the cornea safe underneath the eyelids, protects it from air, debris and bacteria that could slow healing time. That being said, a temporary tarsorrhaphy procedure also promotes a great deal of healing and speeds the total time of recovery. 

Temporary Tarsorrhaphy Recovery in Dogs

Following a canine temporary tarsorrhaphy procedure, the dog will require a short period of hospitalization but can return home after a day. Once home, the canine will require an Elizabethan collar to prevent manipulation of the drawstring and further trauma to the eye. An antibiotic may be required to prevent infection and an anti-inflammatory drug may be used decrease orbital pressure behind the closed eyelids. 

Cost of Temporary Tarsorrhaphy in Dogs

The initial cost of the temporary tarsorrhaphy can be $200 to $2,000 dollars to have performed, depending on the nature of the underlying condition and other related treatments. However, aftercare and reexaminations can cost a dog owner nearly $4,000 after the procedure is conducted. 

Dog Temporary Tarsorrhaphy Considerations

Temporary tarsorrhaphy is highly effective, but does require a great deal of monitoring at home from the pet owner. The area must remain clean and the dog must not scratch at the compromised area. The canine must remain in a clean environment and follow-up appointments with the veterinarian are required for appropriate healing. Inflammation behind the eyelids is possible, which should be immediately addressed by the vet. 

Temporary Tarsorrhaphy Prevention in Dogs

Temporary tarsorrhaphy cannot easily be prevented as corneal ulcerations are a result of trauma or injury to the eye. The most common dogs affected by this eye abnormality are brachycephalic dogs with short noses and flat faces. These dogs have eyes that protrude outwards and can easily become infected, or injured. A canine would then require corneal surgery, which would remove the outermost layer of irregular tissues, and then be protected by temporary tarsorrhaphy. It is important to discuss all options for your dog’s cornea problem prior to conducting the surgical procedure.