Positive contrast ear canalography was described briefly in 1973 as a method for detecting rupture of the tympanic membrane in dogs with otitis media. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the sensitivity and usefulness of the technique. The ears of 10 normal canine cadavers and 31 dogs with clinical signs of ear disease were examined using otoscopy, radiography and contrast radiography after infusing 2 to 5 ml of positive contrast medium into the ear canals. These examinations were repeated in the cadavers after the tympanic membrane had been punctured with a Spreull needle. In the cadavers 14 of 19 (74 per cent) of the tympanic membranes were visible otoscopically; contrast medium did not enter the tympanic bulia of any of the ears before the tympanic membrane was ruptured, but was visible in the bulia in every ear after rupture. In the clinical study, 40 of 61 (66 per cent) of the tympanic membranes were visible otoscopicaily, and 12 appeared to be ruptured. Radiographic signs of otitis media (increased opacity and/or thickening of the tympanic bulla) were identified in seven ears. Canalography was positive for rupture of the tympanic membrane in 13 ears, including four in which it appeared to be intact otoscopically. In normal canine ears, canalography was a more accurate method for detecting iatrogenic tympanic membrane rupture than otoscopy. In dogs with ear disease, canalography may be more sensitive for otitis media than either otoscopy or survey radiography.
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