Veterinary Surgery FAQs
About Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA)
Click for a printable copy of TECA article.
Click on one of the bars below to read about Total Ear Canal Ablation and Bulla Osteotomy:
Total Ear Canal Ablation is the removal of the entire external ear canal. The most common reason to have this procedure performed is for chronic ear infections that have not responded sufficiently to medical management. However, it is also performed because of anatomical defects of the ear canal, or for tumors that involve the ear canal.
The external ear canal of the dog or cat is a cartilage tube with a vertical portion and a horizontal portion. People only have a horizontal component to their ear canals. The ear drum (tympanic membrane) separates the external ear canal from the middle ear. The middle ear, called the tympanic bulla, is a bony cavity that is a part of the skull. The internal ear consists of the auditory nerve and balance mechanism, and is located in a small bony tunnel that leads from the middle ear to the brain.
Drawing courtesy of Hill's Pet Nutrition
The facial nerve is a nerve that supplies the muscles of facial expression. The nerve courses very closely to the horizontal ear canal. During the procedure, every effort is made by the surgeon to identify and protect the nerve. However, if the nerve is inadvertently traumatized, the animal may have some weakness of its facial muscles, including its ability to blink. Usually this is a transient problem that improves over 2-4 weeks. However, in some rare instances, it is a permanent condition.
If a portion of the secretory lining of either the external or middle ear is inadvertently left behind, the animal will likely form an abscess which will require a second surgery to find the offending tissue. This occurs only rarely and is more often associated with surgeons having less experience with the procedure.
The inner ear with its balance mechanism is in close proximity to the middle ear. If enough irritation occurs during the bulla osteotomy, the inner ear can be affected, resulting in some dizziness and balance issues. Again, this is usually a transient problem which resolves on its own.
As with any surgery, there is an anesthetic risk. Anesthetic complications are rare, however, and risk is minimized by the use of the safest practices in anesthesia choice and extensive monitoring.