I thought I’d talk today about Feline Nasopharyngeal Polyps. I saw and removed one from a cat this week.
A recent lecture on this topic at the Western Veterinary Conference in the USA had the title – “A Good Disease” which is a kind of cool take on things, but a disease remains a disease in my book!
These polyps arise from the medial (inside) aspect of the middle ear chamber. From there, they can head in one of two directions.
1. They can grow outwards, through the ear drum and into the external ear canal
2. Down the auditory tube (in humans the eustachian tube) and into the nasopharynx (back of the nose/throat area)
What are nasopharyngeal polyps?
A. benign polyps arising secondary to chronic inflammation, possibly from bacterial or viral infection. They are inflammatory in nature, not cancerous
What are the clinical signs?
If in the nasopharynx- funny breathing sounds, sneezing/gagging, trouble swallowing. They grow huge. They may cause open mouthed breathing, but don’t assume open mouth breathing is a benign polyp. That’s a vet emergency
If in the ear- head shaking, ear infections, head tilt, something called Horner’s Syndrome
What’s Horner’s Syndrome?
a funny syndrome of head tilt, small pupil, droopy upper eyelid and 3rd eyelid prolapse.
How is a nasopharyngeal polyp diagnosed and treated?
the ones in the throat/back of nose can usually be diagnosed by looking there under anaesthesia. Ear ones can usually be seen a “pink cigar” in the ear canal. X-rays may be needed to determine the extent of disease in the middle ear but aren’t usually needed for diagnosis. They can be treated by simply grabbing them and pulling with steady traction and twisting. They may however recur. Definitive surgery is to open the middle ear cavity and remove the origins of the polyp. This surgery is called a ventral bulla osteotomy and is major but relatively straightforward.