Enucleation surgery, a common procedure in small animal practice, is indicated when an eye is painful or infected and vision can’t be saved. However, enucleation should not be used in place of a correct diagnosis or treatment for ocular disease.
Related Article: Proptosis Reduction
- End-stage glaucoma
- Severe corneal or scleral laceration with loss of intraocular contents
- Phthisical eye with discharge accumulating in the conjunctival sac
- Unresponsive painful dry eye with corneal scarring (accompanied by owner’s inability to pursue other treatment options)
- Severe proptosis with extraocular muscle avulsion
- Progressive intraocular tumors not involving the sclera
- Blinding unresponsive infectious or inflammatory uveitis, with or without hyphema (Figure 1, above)
Eyes that have been irreversibly damaged from severe panophthalmitis or a retrobulbar abscess, or that have an extensive or invasive intraocular tumor, should be removed by using an exenteration or transpalpebral technique, not simple subconjunctival enucleation.
In eyes blinded from glaucoma (not caused by neoplasia) or traumatic loss of intraocular contents, evisceration and placement of an intrascleral prosthesis is an alternative to enucleation. Owners who prefer an intrascleral prosthesis should be referred to an ophthalmology practice for this procedure. However, many owners prefer enucleation to intrascleral prosthesis because it involves less postoperative care.
What You Will Need
- General surgery pack, vacuum pack for positioning the head, standard surgery room and anesthesia equipment, & adjustable-height chair (seated position for ocular procedures increases surgeon’s hand stability)
- Jar of 10% neutral buffered formalin (10 parts formalin:1 part eye tissue). This volume is needed to adequately fix the eye for histopathology.
- 3/0 or 4/0 absorbable suture (such as PDS* II, Monocryl monofilament or Vicryl braided suture; ethicon.novartis.us) on a cutting (FS-2) needle. Monofilament sutures have less tissue drag and are preferred for this use. Skin sutures should be 2/0 to 4/0 (depending on animal size) nonabsorbable suture (such as Ethilon or Prolene; ethicon.novartis.us) on a cutting needle.
- Surgical clippers, 4 × 4 sponges, mild surgical scrub, water and eye wash for rinsing, dilute 1:25 povidone-iodine solution for final surgical preparation of the skin, and cotton-tipped applicators to clean and prepare the conjunctival sac with the solution
- Injectable 1/1000 epinephrine diluted to 1/10,000 (using saline) in a 6-mL syringe to be used as a subcutaneous injection or irrigation to control hemorrhage
- Optional: Electrocautery with a cutting tip for the eyelid margin and cautery tip for controlling hemorrhage. A tonsil snare attachment is useful, if available, for removing the eye at the optic nerve.