Total Ear Canal Ablation or TECA is used to describe a procedure used to manage severe canal or middle ear disease in dogs where other methods of treatment have failed. The full name of the procedure is Total Ear Canal Ablation with Lateral Bulla Osteotomy (TECA + LBO) but most commonly called TECA.
“Dogs that have had long-standing ear infections may develop irreversible damage to the ear canal”
What causes ear disease in dogs?
Canine ear disease usually occurs due to inflammation of the skin that lines the ear canal (otitis externa) which can lead to secondary infection of the middle ear chamber (otitis media).
In the majority of cases, inflammation of the skin within the ears is part of a more generalised skin condition. As a result, dogs suffering from ear problems often lick or chew at their feet or experience irritation elsewhere. Severely affected dogs can suffer from skin allergies over other parts of their body, in addition to the ear disease.
The reason that the ears are often more severely affected by this generalised skin irritation, than other areas of the body, is because of the environment within the ear canal. Initially the hypersensitivity or skin allergy causes a low level of inflammation which allows bacteria and yeast organisms that normally live on the skin to increase in numbers. In mildly affected dogs, most areas of the skin can avoid significant organism overgrowth, but the moist and warm environment within the ear canal provides the ideal environment for these organisms to grow and therefore cause further inflammation. As the organisms increase in numbers, and the infection progresses, the ear canal can become irreversibly narrowed, and the middle ear chamber can also become filled with infected material .
Initial treatment aims to break this vicious cycle using a number of techniques
"Ear canal surgery is reserved for those cases that cannot be managed satisfactorily by medical means."
The operation involves the removal of the entire ear canal.The outside part of the ear (the pinna) and the hearing organ (inner ear) itself are left in position. Following removal of the diseased ear canal, part of the bony wall of the tympanic bulla (middle ear) is also removed to facilitate removal of infected material from the middle ear chamber. This step is key to the success of the procedure.
How do I know if my dog will benefit from the TECA procedure?
Chronic ear disease can be very painful for your dog and extremely challenging for both you and your veterinarian to manage. This procedure is designed to eliminate the need for ear drops and significantly improve the comfort level of your dog’s ear.
“The diseased ear canal is removed entirely during the surgical procedure”
Indications for the TECA surgery:
Are there other options?
It is usually appropriate to ensure that all reasonable steps have been taken to manage the condition medically before seeking a surgical solution.
Surgical procedures such as Lateral Wall Resection (LWR) or Vertical Canal Ablation (VCA) are sometimes offered in order to improve the air flow to the remaining ear canal skin and to help control the bacterial and yeast populations. These procedures are simpler than TECA surgery and aim to preserve more of the ‘normal’ anatomy of the ear canal. Unfortunately, ear disease inflammation and infection often involves too much of the ear canal for these techniques to be effective and therefore they are not appropriate for many dogs suffering from otitis externa.
Type of Anesthesia:
The operation involves the removal of the entire ear canal. The outside part of the ear (the pinna) and the hearing organ (inner ear) itself are left in position. Following removal of the diseased ear canal, part of the bony wall of the tympanic bulla (middle ear) is also removed to facilitate removal of infected material from the middle ear chamber. This is called a lateral bulla osteotomy This step is key to the success of the procedure.
“About 50% of the dogs that have chronic ear infections have a ruptured ear drum and infection in the middle ear”
Drains are inserted into the surgical site if the infection is severe. About 98% of the cases that have a bulla osteotomy do not receive drains. If drains have been placed, antiseptic may be needed to be injected through the drains and the bandages changed twice daily for 6 to 7 days.
Aftercare following surgery are usually:
Benefits of surgery
Will my dog still be able to hear after the procedure?
The hearing organ itself is not removed during the TECA operation. However, the removal of the ear canal itself will result in reduced hearing sensitivity, similar to the effect of wearing ear plugs or being under water.
Most dogs undergoing TECA have severe changes to the ear canal before the procedure and they have already a significant loss of hearing, thus most owners do not perceive a large difference post-operatively.
TECA surgery on both sides is smetimes required and can result in significant loss of hearing sensivity.
What is the success rate of this procedure?
When performed by an experienced surgeon, more than 90% of owners report a significant improvement in their dog’s quality of life following the procedure.
“Due to the delicate nature of this procedure, an experienced surgeon will have fewer complications during the surgery”
Risks and complications of TECA Surgery ?
Prognosis is very good following surgery.
Hospital stay following TECA Surgery:
Your pet will stay in the hospital for 24 hours after the surgery providing that recovery is uncomplicated.