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Retrobulbar abscess

Species: Dog
Breed: Border Collie
Age: 2-5 years
My 3 year old, female border collie was treated late yesterday for a retrobulbar abscess. The vet put her under anesthesia and punctured the roof of her mouth to create a drain, and also gave her an injection of penicillin, as well as a prescription for oral keflex to fill today.

When her mouth was open wide during the procedure, we were able to see irregular red marks on the roof of her mouth on the affected side.

I really like my vet--he's an older guy who has primarily a large-animal practice, but he also sees dogs at his home on occasion. His set-up there is pretty basic; no x-ray or ultrasound, for example, and I serve as the veterinary assistant when we're there. I love taking my animals to him--I feel like we're all in a James Herriot story.

My question is this: should my dog have some kind of imaging study to determine the cause of the abscess? (He says it's not necessary, but in this instance, I wonder whether he is perhaps being too cursory and brusque; his large-animal side is coming into play, perhaps? Just felt moved to get another opinion....) In looking around on the internet, I see that tooth problems and migrated stick fragments are two of the more common causes of retrobulbar abscess. (Given the marks on the roof of her mouth, and the fact that she likes to chew sticks, I'm suspecting the latter.)

She does seem like she's on the mend this morning. Her eye is still quite red and bulging slightly, and her manner somewhat subdued, but the swelling in her face has gone down, and she had no trouble eating breakfast. I would expect the swelling to go down, though, from the combination of drainage and antibiotics--even if there was still a stick fragment in there. (No way a stick fragment would get out of the hole that was made for drainage.) What do you think--watch and wait, or make the effort now to determine the cause of the abscess?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi,

It sounds like your vet is doing all of the same things that I would do. The vast majority of the time, draining the abscess and starting antibiotics is all that you need to cure a retrobulbar abscess.

Now, if for some reason this abscess is not healing well within a week or two, or if it starts to return in the future, then I would consider having further imaging done. The problem is that an xray is unlikely to show anything. A CT scan may show you something, but it is quite expensive.

In my opinion, doing further testing right now is not warranted.

I hope things continue to improve!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Hi, Dr. Marie--

Mattie looks even better this morning--nearly back to normal.

Thanks so much for offering this service. It gave me a lot of peace of mind to be able to get a quick and inexpensive second opinion.

I also appreciated the additional information I got from you regarding what kind of imaging would be needed.

Since I have three dogs, and they are always into something, it's very likely I'll use this service again in the future!

Thanks,
Lindsay


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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.