A Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA) and Lateral Bulla Osteotomy (LBO) are surgical procedures that involve removing the ear canal and opening the tympanic bulla.

Although dogs are the most common patients requiring this procedure, occasionally cats will present the clinical signs indicating that they need a TECA/LBO.

Indications for Surgery

The majority of dogs requiring this procedure are suffering from reoccurring ear infections that often cause permanent damage to the ear canal.

  • The walls of the ear canal can thicken or even calcify, making it difficult to treat the infection with medication.
  • The ear drum (tympanic membrane) can rupture, causing the infection to spread to the middle ear (tympanic bulla).
  • Growths or cancer in the ear canal can also be an indicator that a surgeon needs to remove the ear canal.

Surgical Procedure

Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA)/Lateral Bulla Osteotomy (LBO)

  • The surgeon will remove the entire ear canal, which extends from the outer ear to the tympanic bulla.
  • Once the tympanic bulla is exposed, the surgeon will remove any debris from the cavity that may have collected due to chronic infections.
  • The incision, which extends downward from the outer ear, will be sutured with both inner and outer stitches.  The outer ones will need to be removed 10-14 days after surgery.
  • Usually, the surgeon will only operate on one ear at a time, even if the patient suffers from chronic infections in both ears.  The patients often experience much less discomfort when only one TECA/LBO is preformed.

Postoperative Care

Most patients are sent home with oral pain medication and a patch on their skin that administers pain control as well.  Also, the surgeon may prescribe antibiotics. The incision needs to be monitored for swelling and discharge.

  • Within the first 48 hours cold packing is ideal to reduce swelling and bruising.
  • After the first 48 hours warm compresses are the best way to reduce swelling.

For a period of time after the surgery, the patient will be on restricted activity to ensure proper healing of the surgical site.

Complications from Surgery

  • Extensive bacteria in the ear canal from chronic infections can often lead to infections at the site of the incision. Prescribed antibiotics significantly reduce this problem.
  • A slow or incomplete eye-blink and a droopy lip after surgery can occur due to trauma to the facial nerve.  The nerve is located very close to the ear canal.  In most cases patients will recover full use of affected areas within a few weeks of surgery.
  • Patients who had difficulty with balance before surgery might have increased problems after surgery; it may take up to six weeks before all symptoms resolve.