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Solution to outer ear abscesses


Alpha Buck

A few months after the operation

Four days after the operation

I first realised that both our house buns - Ziggy and Troy had ear abscesses after a chat with Caroline at the Rabbit Residence when she told me what to look for. They both had maltezer sized lumps around the base of both of their ears. They had recently been treated for ear mites so maybe one thing had led to another. I took them down to my vet, William Lewis and he confirmed it. My bunnies ears were full of gunk/pus :( William could squeeze out some of the pus to relieve some of the discomfort but the abcesses just filled again within a week or two. Both buns were showing signs of distress - Ziggy stopped eating until we put him on Metacam, Troy because very nervous presumably because he was stone deaf. These type of abscesses are fairly common but are often not treated - I guess there is a lot of bunnies out there just putting up with it :( They only occur in lops and in the bend of the ear. Most likely they happen when the normal processes of wax moving up the ear canal doesn't work and instead the wax forms an abcess in the bend of the ear.

We both searched for solutions to the problem but didn't come acorss anything which worked permanently. William proposed doing an operation to remove the abscesses and open up the ear canal to the side of the head so that wax etc could drain normally. This is commonly done in cats and dogs and is called an ear canal resection. They operation proved more challenging than William expected - I know he had a steep learning curve as there were complications he had not seen in dogs and cats e.g. the ear canal was not where he expected, the skin was difficult to stitch as it was extra thin and he had to remove really large amounts of pus. Since doing the operation William has met two French exotics vets who do it and, thanks to someone on the forum, I found our that FHB does them (she confirmed it when William e-mailed her).

William operated on the last of the abscesses last week - I've posted after and before pictures. I know he would be very happy to hear from any vets thinking of doing this operation - he took lots of pictures and can help with advise about how to go about it. The bunnies are back to their own cheeky selves thank goodness! I had to clean out the newly made holes for a while but eventually they realised that the wax was coming out a different place and they started dealing with it themselves.

I hope this helps someone else! I realise it is perhaps not as serious as an inner ear abscess but it was clearly reducing the quality of life of my buns.
Thank you, a very interesting read!

I have never heard of these before - but have mostly had uppy eared buns. Basically, it's moving the end of the ear canal to the side of the head, have I read that right? It's hard to see in the pic as obviously it's still healing but it looks like it should be a good clean wound when it all heals up.

Vibes for Ziggy and Troy.
Yes - that's right - it makes the ear canal straight so the wax comes out naturally. Apparently the abscess forms where the cartilage is broken which is what causes the lop effect - the problem is bred into them.:(
Not a new technique - I do this quite frequently :)
They look a bit frankenstein-like with lots of sutures afterwards but it is the best way of long-term resolution
Great! This need to be more generally known about in the vet community _ I know that William posted on a vet forum but replies from John Chitty and Vittoria (?) in Italy didn't suggest this (Vittoria suggested removing the entire inner ear). Sound like you might be the person to do it!
Lops seem to have such problems with ear infections...4 of my lops (out of 12 in total) have/had ear problems. Two are very elderly and have mobility problems which prevent them cleaning their ears properly, but the other 2 are otherwise reasonably healthy.

I've had good results from using chloramphenicol drops and also oral zithromax (not together)
Two of my lop bunnies have had this op at FHB with complete succsess :D.
I do hope for the sake of all bunnies, that vets will learn how to treat this common ear abscess problem with the same succsess.
Our old boy Noah has an ear abscess which has been operated on 3 times since Dec 2010 & I'm going to mention this thread to our vet tomorrow to see if this might be a possibilty for him. Our vet is contacting FHB tomorrow for advice on how to continue treating him.

Noah is the spit of your boys too! :shock: :love:

I hope they're continuing to do well :)

Thank you for sharing your story :)