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Cats + Surgical Conditions

  • Otitis interna can cause some significant signs in your cat, including drooling from the side of the mouth, difficulty eating, inability to blink, and drooping eyelids, lips, and nostril on the affected side. If the specific cause can be identified, such as bacterial or fungal infection, treatment could involve long-term medications. Less commonly, surgery may be needed. Many cats will respond to treatment and recover well.

  • A joint luxation is a dislocation or complete separation between the bones that normally articulate to form a joint. Subluxation is the term referring to a partial separation of the joint. The most commonly subluxated joint in cats is the hip, although any joint can be affected. Your veterinarian may be suspicious of a joint subluxation based on a history of trauma and physical examination findings such as pain and limping. A radiograph is necessary to definitively diagnose a joint subluxation. In many cases, the joint can be reduced or replaced to its original orientation by a procedure called a closed reduction with prognosis being good if treated immediately.

  • Laser surgery is a procedure that generates a beam of light energy at a specific wavelength, resulting in the cutting of tissues. There are three major advantages of laser surgery when compared to traditional stainless steel surgical scalpels, which are decreased pain, decreased inflammation, and improved tissue healing. Routine procedures such as ovariohysterectomy and castration are commonly done with laser.

  • One especially dangerous type of foreign body in cats is referred to as a linear foreign body. This term describes long, thin objects such as string, yarn, and tinsel. If one end of the linear foreign body becomes lodged in the gastrointestinal tract, intestinal perforation may occur. The most common signs of a linear foreign body include vomiting, anorexia (refusal to eat), dehydration, and lethargy. If your veterinarian suspects a linear foreign body, your cat will need an exploratory laparotomy.

  • The patella connects the femur and the tibia and is normally located in a groove called the trochlear groove found at the end of the femur. A luxating patella is a kneecap that 'pops out' or moves out of its normal location. The patella will luxate or slip out of the groove during extension of the leg if the trochlear groove is too shallow, if the cat is bow-legged or cow-hocked, or if the point of attachment on the tibia is off-center. There are 4 grades of patellar luxation, and a higher grade means that the condition is more severe. Your veterinarian will diagnose a luxating patella by feeling the displaced kneecap during palpation of the leg. A luxating patella can be corrected surgically, especially if the patella luxates frequently. If your veterinarian performs surgery before arthritis or other knee injury occurs, the prognosis is excellent.

  • If the nerves to the colon do not function normally, the muscles of the colonic wall will not contract properly. The muscles then become stretched and the colon enlarges in diameter. Rather than being pushed into the rectum in a normal manner, fecal material accumulates in the distended colon, resulting in severe constipation called obstipation. This massive enlargement of the colon and the resulting constipation is called megacolon. Megacolon is often treatable using a medical approach but some cases require surgical intervention called subtotal colectomy.

  • Muscle tears are direct or indirect traumatic injuries that cause damage to the architecture of the muscle tissue. The most common cause is an indirect injury, or strain, caused by overstretching during athletic activities, such as running or jumping. Clinical signs of muscle tears include pain on palpation of the injured area, lameness or limping, swelling of the muscle, and/or bruising. Muscle tears are treated immediately with rest, cold compresses, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. In the most severe cases, surgery is likely required.

  • Nasopharyngeal polyps are benign idiopathic masses originating from the middle ear that extend either down the eustachian tube or into the external ear. They can cause stertor, nasal discharge, otitis, otic discharge and head tilt. Diagnosis may involve visualization through otoscopic exam or behind the soft palate, but usually needs radiographic evidence or more advanced imaging such as CT or MRI. Treatment involves debulking the mass through traction which has a high rate of recurrence, or more advanced surgery into the bulla to remove the source of the polyp.

  • Oxalate bladder stones are composed of a mineral called calcium oxalate. Over the past 40 years the incidence over oxalate bladder stones has increased in cats. Cats are more likely to develop oxalate stones when their urine contains high levels of calcium and oxalate. In some cases, this is also associated with high blood calcium levels. Additionally, a low urine pH promotes the formation of oxalate stones. Bladder stones can cause significant inflammation and irritation of the bladder wall. Signs may include frequent urination, straining to urinate, blood in the urine, and urinating outside of the litterbox. Treatment of oxalate stones usually requires surgical removal, known as a cystotomy or less commonly may be removed via a process known as cystoscopy. Your cat will require ongoing management.

  • The ductus arteriosus is an arterial shunt between the aorta and the pulmonary artery. Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a heart defect that occurs when the ductus arteriosus fails to close down at birth. If the ductus arteriosus fails to close properly after birth, the difference in pressure between the pulmonary artery and the aorta means that the blood will take the path of least resistance and flow from the aorta through the patent ductus arteriosus into the pulmonary artery, needlessly recirculating this oxygenated blood back to the lungs. The larger the PDA is, the more blood will be shunted through it, causing more significant signs. A PDA will usually be diagnosed when your veterinarian hears a continuous heart murmur during a routine physical examination of your kitten. The goal of treatment for a forward flowing PDA is to stop the blood flowing through the shunt. Your veterinarian will refer you to a veterinary cardiovascular surgeon, who will determine the optimal treatment for your cat. Provided that the condition is treated before heart failure develops, the success rate associated with surgical closure is very high and the prognosis for a normal life after surgery is excellent.