Clinical signs, magnetic resonance imaging features, and outcome after surgical and medical treatment of otogenic intracranial infection in 11 cats and 4 dogs

Sturges BK, Dickinson PJ, Kortz GD, et al.

J Vet Intern Med 2006;20:648-656.

Brainstem dysfunction resulting from central extension of infection is a life-threatening complication of otitis media/interna (OMI) that has been described infrequently in dogs and cats. We review the clinical signs of disease, diagnostic findings, and results of surgical and medical treatments of brainstem disease attributable to otogenic intracranial infection in cats and dogs. Eleven cats and 4 dogs were examined because of acute, subacute, or chronic clinical signs of brain disease including central vestibular signs, altered mentation, abnormal posture/gait, cranial nerve deficits, and seizures. Results of a minimal database (CBC, serum biochemical panel, urinalysis, thoracic radiographs, and abdominal ultrasonographic images or radiographs) were within reference intervals in all animals. Magnetic resonance (MR) images of the head were acquired for all animals, and cisternal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from 9 of 11 cats and 3 of 4 dogs was examined. Surgical exploration and ventral bulla osteotomy were done for 12 of 15 animals, followed by 1-3 months of antibiotic therapy; the remaining animals were euthanized before treatment. In all animals, MR imaging was effective in characterizing the location and extent of the pathologic changes intracranially as well as within middle/inner ear structures. Results of CSF analysis were characteristic of bacterial infection in most of the animals with acute or subacute disease. Since long-term outcome in all treated animals was very good to excellent, it was concluded that dogs and cats with intracranial disease secondary to extension of otitis media/interna have a good-to-excellent prognosis when the condition was diagnosed and was treated by surgical exploration and appropriate antibiotic therapy.