Interesting Cases

A Kitten With A Ear Tumor : Major Surgery And Immediate Success.

Jul 2 • 3 minute read

Harry is a happy and thriving 7 year old male neutered Abyssinian cat. When we first saw him and his brother Ryley for their first kitten appointment in November 2013, he was not doing quite so well. Harry presented with a bad eye infection, nasal congestion and discharge, and an ear infection. On physical exam we noted that there was an infection in both eyes and inflammation in the left eye. The nasal discharge and congestion were worse on his left side, and the ear infection present affected the left ear only. Once the debris was cleaned away we could see a fleshy, lobulated structure deep in the canal: this is called an aural polyp (Ear Tumor). In this case we suspected a viral cause based on his combination of signs and the particular concerns with his eyes. Harry was put on antibiotics to control secondary infections of his upper respiratory tract and ear, and antibiotic drops for his eyes. He was also put on some antiviral therapies to mitigate the viral component of his issues. The polyp in his ear continued to grow with time, totally blocking the  canal so surgical removal of the polyp was recommended.

Harry underwent surgery at our Mississauga (Southdown) hospital to the remove the tumor (polyp) inside his left ear by a procedure called a Ventral Bulla Osteotomy (VBO). This a very detailed procedure in which an incision is made at the base of the bony structure of the ear, just behind the lower jaw. The sensitive muscles, blood vessels and nerves that supply the head and face must be dissected very carefully to access the bony base of the ear canal (bulla). Once this landmark is reached special instruments are used to open the bulla which then allows access to the middle ear. A swab is used to take a sample of the internal contents (including pus) and is submitted for culture. In Harry’s case pus, necrotic debris and the stalk of the polyp were found in this location-the middle ear. Culture of the fluid showed mycoplasma-like species. The stalk of the polyp was cleanly transected within the delicate middle ear and the entire mass was freed to be removed through the external ear canal. The bulla was scraped clean with mini curette/small osteotome then lavaged several times with saline and the overlying muscles, subcutaneous tissue and skin closed with sutures. The opened area in the bulla is left open permanently and a special drain is placed temporarily to facilitate healing.

Ear Tumor dissected free of the middle ear and removed through the outer ear

Harry spent the next few days in hospital then was sent home for his owner to continue care. He bounced back, and has not looked back since.

Our clients have provided the following comment for this article in December 2015 and an brief overview of the experience: “Harry is now 2 years old and a vibrant mischievous boy that is the love of our lives. Although Harry’s early days were extremely difficult, fraught with numerous visits to the clinic, near death experiences and several surgeries, through all of this we never gave up hope that he would survive this ordeal. He has flourished with the tireless care provided by his family and the dedication by the talented Southdown Veterinary Team!

Key Points:

1) Polyps are uncommon in cats

2) In young cats (<2 years old), they are usually associated with an underlying virus

3) Polyps can grow in the ear, nose and throat

4) Polyps are usually benign (non-cancerous) fleshy growths that are infiltrated with inflammatory cells

5) They usually cause copious amounts of pus to be produced and are associated with a secondary bacterial middle ear infection

6) Polyps can also cause nasal discharge, sneezing, pain, voice change and other symptoms

It has been approximately 1.5 years since Harry’s major ear surgery, following 3 to 4  months of health problems as a kitten. Harry and his brother visited our clinic/veterinary hospital for their Annual Health Check in early December 2015 and received excellent health reports. This video shows the beauty of the individuals and their preparation for the trip home from the veterinarian’s.

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