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Titan is a beautiful 8 year old Great Dane who came to us with a history of a chronic ear infection which had been treated on and off at other veterinarians for a year without success. Titan had no history of allergies, and he was not a swimmer; two of the main reasons that cause ear infections in dogs.
During the physical exam, we used our video-otoscope to look down into Titan's ears. In the left ear we found a large tumor growing. The top of the tumor was about 1.5 inches in diameter and it was so big that we were unable to mover our scope down in to the canal. An ear tumor like this will often lead to chronic ear infections because it blocks air and medications from getting down into the deeper part of the canal.
We discussed the treatment options with the owner and explained that a surgical procedure called the "lateral ear resection" was the only way to help Titan. When approaching a tumor like this, one can never be sure if the tumor is originating in the ear canal itself, or if it is coming from the inner ear. Therefore, we have to be prepared to do a more radical surgery if the tumor is originating deeper in the canal.
We performed preoperative blood tests to ensure Titan's safety under anesthesia. He was gently anesthetized for surgery and this is what we found in the ear canal: (click on image to enlarge)
Fortunately, the tumor was embedded in the wall of the ear canal and we were able to remove the entire tumor and still save the hearing. The lateral ear resection is used to gain access to the ear canal for tumor removal, as in this case, but it can also be used as a very useful tool for pets who suffer from chronic ear infections. By removing the outside part of the ear canal, we leave an ear that can be readily cleaned and which allows for circulation of air.
This is a photo of Titan's ear after surgery.
Even though it looks a bit gory in this photo, it went on to heal beautifully. The tumor turned out to be benign and the pathologists report that we got the entire tumor. Titan's ear infection is finally under control and both he and his owner are very happy.