Educational Articles

Surgical Conditions

  • Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions seen by veterinarians. This handout discusses the signs and diagnosis of this serious oral condition in cats. A variety of dental disease conditions and their treatment are explained.

  • The diaphragm is the muscular partition that separates the abdomen and the chest. Tearing or disruption of this thin muscle is called a diaphragmatic hernia or diaphragmatic rupture. The most common cause of diaphragmatic hernia is blunt force trauma. Clinical signs are dependent on the severity of herniation. There is often respiratory distress, an abnormal heart rhythm, muffled heart and lung sounds, and other signs of systemic shock. The abdomen may feel empty when palpated. Once the patient is stable, the hernia must be corrected surgically.

  • The diaphragm is the muscular partition that separates the abdomen and the chest. Tearing or disruption of this thin muscle is called a diaphragmatic hernia or diaphragmatic rupture. The most common cause of diaphragmatic hernia is blunt force trauma. Clinical signs depend on the severity of herniation. There is often respiratory distress, an abnormal heart rhythm, muffled heart and lung sounds, and other signs of systemic shock. The abdomen may feel empty when palpated. Once the patient is stable, the hernia must be corrected surgically.

  • Distichiae can be an irritating eye problem for many dogs. The abnormally growing extra eyelashes can cause chronic discomfort to the eye and potential vision problems. A thorough eye examination, including fluorescein staining of the cornea and an assessment of the degree of tear production in the eyes, is usually necessary to assess the extent of any accompanying corneal injury and to rule out other causes of the dog's clinical signs. Various treatment options are available in order to help dogs live a more comfortable life. The prognosis is excellent for those dogs that do not show any clinical signs associated with their distichiae. For dogs with mild clinical signs, the likelihood that the condition can be managed with conservative treatment is good.

  • Ear canal tumors are abnormal growths that can develop from any part of the ear canal (the skin, the glands of the skin that produce earwax and oil, and the underlying connective tissues, muscles, and bones). Initially, these tumors may appear as one or more pink, white, or purple nodular masses in the ear canal. If benign, they may grow to a certain size and may or may not be problematic. If malignant, they may grow, ulcerate (break open) and bleed, and nearly always become infected, causing recurrent or chronic ear infections. The treatment of choice for ear canal tumors is surgical excision.

  • Ectopic cilia can be an irritating eye problem for many dogs. Growing abnormally through the conjunctiva, they come into contact with the cornea and can cause chronic discomfort to the eye and corneal ulceration. Surgery is necessary to help to correct the problem in order to help dogs live a more comfortable life. The prognosis for surgical correction of this condition is generally good.

  • Ectropion, or outward rolling of the eyelid, can cause problems such as recurring conjunctivitis and drying out of the cornea. The clinical signs are a 'sagging' or 'rolling outward' lower eyelid. A thick mucoid discharge often accumulates along the eyelid margin. Diagnosis is usually made on physical examination. Acquired ectropion can occur in any dog at any age. Testing for hypothyroidism and for antibodies against certain muscle fibers may be done if looking for underlying causes. The treatment for mild ectropion generally consists of medical therapy; if the condition is severe, surgical correction can be performed to shorten the eyelids.

  • Entropion, or rolling in of the eyelids, is seen in many breeds and is considered a hereditary disorder. Most dogs will squint, hold the eye shut, and tear excessively (epiphora) though some patients will develop a mucoid discharge. Entropion can cause additional eye problems, such as corneal ulcers, perforations, or development of pigment on the cornea interfering with vision and can be chronically irritating to the dog. Entropion is corrected with surgery.

  • Alveolar osteitis, also called expansile osteitis, is a relatively common condition that results from chronic periodontal disease in cats. It is painful and can interfere with grooming and eating. If this disorder is detected early, it may be possible to treat the disease without tooth extraction by performing thorough periodontal therapy (dental cleaning and scaling).

  • An FHO, or femoral head ostectomy, is a surgical procedure that aims to restore pain-free mobility to a diseased or damaged hip by removing the head and neck of the femur (the long leg bone or thighbone). This procedure is commonly recommended for cats, especially those who are at a healthy weight. Active cats often experience better results with FHO than less-active cats. It is important to follow your veterinarian's post-operative instructions. Most cats will show signs of complete recovery approximately six weeks post-operatively.