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CONTRIBUTOR(S): Vetstream Ltd, Paul Wood,

Enucleation – post-operative care

Enucleation – post-operative care

Enucleation is the surgical removal of the entire eyeball due to disease or injury.

A cow after enucleation surgery ©Paul Wood

How is the eye removed?

There are several surgical approaches to removing an eye. The procedure performed will be influenced by the presentation of the eye to be removed and the surgeon’s preference. Different surgical approaches will require slightly different aftercare, however the general principals described below will be common across all.

What care will be needed after surgery?

Keep the animal separate from the rest of the herd, but within sight/sound of their herd mates for at least 5 days. The wound will be vulnerable to knocks and re-injury in the days immediately after the surgery. A nursing cow may keep her calf with her.

Check the animal every 2 to 3 hours in the first day, to ensure that excessive bleeding is not occurring. If you are concerned about the amount of bleeding, then contact your veterinarian for advice.

The procedure is painful! Ensure you give all medications (pain relief, antibiotics, etc) at the correct dose and at the correct time and complete the full course.

Provide a comfortable bed with plenty of hay, food and water.

If the animal is lactating, then ensure she is milked as usual. If you have a mobile milking machine, then take the machine to her. If not, then try and house her as near to the dairy as possible, to minimizse movement for the first few days post-operatively.

Flies are attracted to blood, urine and faeces. Ensure that soiled bedding is promptly removed and that the wound is kept clean. Your veterinarian can advise you as to suitable fly repellents and a fan in the housing will help. If you notice fly eggs near the wound, remove them quickly with clean water and cotton wool. If you notice maggots, call your veterinarian straight away.

Sometimes a pressure bandage may be placed, and this may require removal after 24 hours, your veterinarian will advise you of this.

Your veterinarian will usually have placed sutures that will require removal 7 to 10 days post-surgery. They will advise you as to revisits and suture removal.

Animals that have had an enucleation may be reluctant to enter a crush or handling chute again, given the procedure they experienced when last restrained in this way and the post-op checks that they will have had.  It may be helpful to regularly walk the animal through the crush with some herd mates in the weeks after the operation to help relax them around this equipment again.

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