OBJECTIVES: The study hypotheses were as follows: (1) owing to the unique anatomy of the feline middle ear, the hypotympanum would be entered in less than 100% of cats during total ear canal ablation and lateral bulla osteotomies (TECA-LBOs); and (2) incomplete penetration of the septum and subsequent failure to enter the hypotympanum is more likely to occur in surgeries performed by a novice surgeon when compared with an experienced surgeon and may be under-recognized.
METHODS: Head CT was performed in 12 feline cadavers to confirm absence of gross ear disease. A novice surgeon and an experienced surgeon were randomly assigned to perform TECA-LBO on the left or right ear. Surgeons were blinded to each other's surgical technique. CT of cadavers was performed after the procedure. Successful penetration of the septum, entry into the hypotympanic cavity and amount of bone removed in bulla osteotomy, quantified via CT, were compared between the novice surgeon and experienced surgeon.
RESULTS: The novice surgeon entered the hypotympanum in 3/12 (25%) procedures, compared with 9/12 (75%) procedures performed by the experienced surgeon. The experienced surgeon performed a larger osteotomy than the novice surgeon (3301 mm vs 1376 mm, <0.0023). Regardless of surgeon experience, more bone was removed in surgeries in which the hypotympanum was entered.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Our results underscore the need for familiarity with feline middle ear anatomy when performing TECA-LBOs. Postoperative CT is recommended for novice surgeons to confirm entry into the hypotympanum.