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Repairing nictitans gland prolapse in dogs
  1. José B. Rodriguez Gómez, VMD, MSc, PhD
  1. Departamento de Patología, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Zaragoza, Calle Miguel Servet 177, 50013 Zaragoza, Aragón, Spain
  1. e-mail: jrodgom{at}

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THE nictitans gland is responsible for about 40 per cent of the aqueous part of the precorneal tear film. Its prolapse is very commonly seen in veterinary ophthalmology and it is the most common primary disorder of the third eyelid. Nictitans gland prolapse is more prevalent in the following dog breeds: English bulldog, French bulldog, cocker spaniel, Yorkshire terrier, lhasa apso, shar pei, West Highland white terrier, beagle and great dane.

The exact cause of this condition is still unknown, but it may be the result of aplasia or hypoplasia of the connective tissue attachments between the base of the gland and the periorbital tissues (Plummer and others 2008), which can be brought on by lymphoid hyperplasia and allergic inflammation of the gland (Mazzucchelli and others 2012). The abnormality is usually unilateral (60 per cent) at first but may become bilateral, typically within three months (Mazzucchelli and others 2012).

When untreated, the prolapsed glands often become swollen and the production of tears decreases. In advanced cases, the inflamed tissue can become fibrotic, destroying the glandular parenchyma and thus making any functional recovery difficult.

Some practitioners excise the gland (Helper 1982, Dugan and others 1992, Chaudhary and others 2009) as it is technically simple, they are uncomfortable with replacement procedures, and also because they feel that they do not see keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) as a sequelae. However, this technique is …

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