Patient: English Cocker Spaniel, Male, Neutered, 5 years. Gentle dog. No Cocker Rage.
Complaint: Head shaking for several weeks. Dark red ear wax in horizontal canal. Groomer could not resolve this problem.
Solution: I advised surgery to open up the vertical ear canal so that the trapped water and debris inside the canals can flow out easily in the long term. The couple in their 40s knew what I was talking about and agreed to the surgery.
Jun 21, 2010. Anaesthesia and Surgery took over one hour.
Pre-anaesthetic dose Domitor 0.25 ml IV. Waited 5 minutes. Isoflurane gas. Intubate. "How about Zoletil IV?" my assistant Mr Saw asked as in the recent debarking case, I had used both.
"It is best not to give more sedation drugs than necessary. I will be using isoflurane which is safest," I advised him. "Less sedation drugs, less likely to get anaesthetic deaths. If I use Zoletil, I will need to use Atropine to prevent salivation and muscle tremors. Then I need to top up as this surgery is going to be longer than debarking as I have two ear surgeries to do. That means I still need isoflurane gas to maintain surgical anaesthesia."
Pre-anaesthetic sedation using one drug and isoflurane gas is the safest method of anaesthesia for dogs and I use this method frequently. In debarking, I had no choice but to use injectable anaesthetics and there was the hassle of topping up via the IV catheter. For gas anaesthesia, just increase the dosage and that is so convenient when the dog is intubated and given gas. For injectable anaesthetic top up, it is given by small doses via the saline drip. It is quite convenient too but nothing is as safe as the isoflurane gas.
"Any surgery consent forms to sign?" the owner had asked me earlier. "The owner can sign forms for the vet. The important thing is that the dog does not die on the operating table." Usually I assess the dog's health and the owner's personality and I seldom give them forms to sign. But I have always communicated to them the risks of anaesthetic deaths. Consent forms are common even in human anaesthesia and surgery at the Singapore hospitals.
Performance (a live dog at the end of surgery) counts a lot. I cannot be complacent as one anaesthetic death creates massive waves of emotional upheavals in the owners and the family. This English Cocker Spaniel is healthy but still no vet can guarantee the owner that the dog will not die on the operating table.
1. Clipped skin of ear to the base, not just partly. My assistant had to shave more, increasing the anaesthetic time. Put artery forceps to base of vertical canal to identify the location.
2. Draw the outline of the surgical area from base of vertical canal and add 50% more length (see picture).
3. Electro-incision of rectangular outline.
4. Excise subcutaneous fat to see the vertical canal.
5. Be careful of a big vein posterior to the vertical canal. If cut, ligate this vein. Elevate cut skin upwards to see the subcutaneous fat.
6. Angle forceps at 30 degrees downwards and outwards so that the drainage board is wide and clamp anterior and posterior edges of vertical canal.
7. Electro-incision on clamped groove.
8. Scissors to cut.
9. Lower the cartilage. Cut cartilage long enough to anchor it to base of skin. I stitched at the horizontal canal level first. 2/0 absorbable sutures were used.
10. Pictures to illustrate the surgical procedures are presented in:
Tolfedine painkiller injection after surgery and orally for the next 4 days were quite effective in controlling the pain. Dosage was 4mg/kg whether by injection or oral. An e-collar was given.
I asked the owners to take the dog home on Day 4 to reduce costs for them. Ideally I would like to keep the dog for 10 days to ensure complete healing but there is always the increase in veterinary costs for the owner and this may not be in their interest.
"The left ear has a stitch breakdown on the lower right side," I said to the couple. It will close. Do not wipe the wound. The stitches will dissolve usually. I need to review in 14 days from today."