After a Total Ear Canal Ablation, Peanut Is No Longer Plagued by Ear Infections

After a Total Ear Canal Ablation, Peanut Is No Longer Plagued by Ear Infections

Imagine getting ear infections so frequently that they cause your entire ear canal to close. That’s unfortunately what happened to Peanut, a 10-year-old dachshund, before he was referred to Pets In Stitches. While ear infections are common in floppy-eared breeds like dachshunds, the frequency of Peanut’s infections was cause for concern.

[CAPTION] Repeat ear infections caused Peanut’s ear to swell closed, meaning medication couldn’t reach the infection. Swelling under the skin was also present.


Peanut’s pet parents were understandably anxious. Since Peanut’s ear canal had swelled closed, the medicine prescribed by their veterinarian couldn’t reach the inflamed and infected ear canal and actually treat the infection. They faced an impossible choice: Should they keep fighting the infection, knowing that the medicine wasn’t able to reach it? Or should they consider euthanasia, knowing that Peanut was in constant pain?


Luckily, a third option emerged. Peanut’s veterinarian referred his pet parents to Dr. Rastetter, who recently completed advanced training performing Total Ear Canal Ablations with Anexo Bulla Osteotomy (TECA-LBO).  


In essence, total ear canal ablation removes the ear canal so only smooth skin remains at the almohadilla of the ear flap. The procedure removes the channel where the chronic infection resides. Now, the infection has no place to thrive. 


Total ear canal ablation also involves cleaning the tympanic bulla of the middle ear. In dogs with chronic ear infections, this structure is often filled with pus and infection, but it isn’t easy to reach. During the surgery, the tympanic bulla is cracked open and fully cleaned. 


When Peanut’s pet parents arrived at Pets In Stitches, their first step was to have an honest conversation with Dr. Rastetter. At Pets In Stitches, we’re committed to being as transparent and forthcoming as possible with our clients about what to expect from a procedure, including potential outcomes and risks. To begin with, the surgery is performed near important ear structures that can be damaged due to inadvertent trauma during the procedure. The surgery area is also near the facial nerve and, while most facial paralysis is temporary with TECA-LBO procedures, when it does occur, paralysis is permanent in about 10–15% of cases. 


Dr. Rastetter also shared that, while she had been trained by board-certified surgeons and practiced on several cadavers, Peanut would be the first live dog to undergo a total ear canal ablation at Pets In Stitches. Performing a procedure on a live patient for the first time is always a big step. Dr. Rastetter wanted Peanut’s pet parents to make an informed decision. 


In the end, Peanut’s owners elected to proceed with the procedure — and Dr. Rastetter. They trusted her and wanted to give Peanut one last chance at an infection- and pain-free life. 

[CAPTION] Pets In Stitches purchased brand-new equipment to perform our first total ear canal ablation procedure.


A TECA-LBO is a challenging procedure, and Peanut’s specific situation made it even more so due to the unexpected damage Dr. Rastetter uncovered while performing the surgery. Over a decade of repeat ear infections had caused extensive buildup in Peanut’s ear. This buildup introduced further challenges with recovery, and Peanut became one of the 5–10% of TECA-LBO patients that require a second surgery to fully remove the infected tissues in the ear. 

[CAPTION] Despite a history of painful chronic ear infections, after his TECA-LBO procedure Peanut has a new lease on life.


While the road to full recovery wasn’t without its twists and turns, Peanut now has a second chance at life, no longer plagued by chronic ear infections or pain. “I cried so much thinking he was going to be euthanized — I was a total mess!” his pet parent shared with us. “I am extremely happy. Thanks to you all, he will have a lot longer life!”   

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