Treatment of canine spontaneous chronic corneal epithelial defects (SCCEDs) with corneal thermal cautery: A retrospective study of 89 cases

Vet Ophthalmol. 2023 Jul;26(4):280-287. doi: 10.1111/vop.13128. Epub 2023 Jun 26.


Purpose: To evaluate the clinical course and outcome of canine spontaneous chronic corneal epithelial defects (SCCEDs) treated with a combination of cotton-tip epithelial debridement (ED) and corneal thermal cautery (CTC), with or without diamond burr debridement (DBD).

Methods: Retrospective medical record review was used to identify dogs treated for SCCEDs at the Veterinary School of Toulouse between 2001 and 2021. The variables identified included signalment, history, clinical findings, previous treatments, and outcomes. Surgery was performed under manual restraint after topical anesthesia of the cornea. The outcome endpoints included healing, clearing of the cornea and complications.

Results: Seventy-seven dogs (89 eyes) from 28 different breeds fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The mean age was 8.78 years. The overall success rate after one procedure was 65.1% with a mean healing time of 15.4 days, but 21 eyes lost to follow-up after the initial treatment, were not included in calculations. There was no significant effect of age, eye, brachycephalic conformation and previous treatments. No significant differences in healing rates were found between groups that received DBD or not. Fifteen eyes (22.7%) underwent a second procedure. Complications (corneal pigmentation, uveitis, corneal bullae, and corneal infection) were observed in 15 cases (22%), with only two cases of complicating melting ulcer.

Conclusions: CTC is a safe and effective treatment for SCCEDs in dogs and can be performed without general anesthesia. Additional DBD does not bring any significant value to CTC in SCCEDs. CTC could be interesting in cases where other procedures are less desirable.

Keywords: corneal debridement; corneal thermal cautery; diamond burr debridement; non-healing corneal ulcer; spontaneous chronic corneal epithelial defects; thermokeratoplasty.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cautery / veterinary
  • Cornea / surgery
  • Corneal Diseases* / surgery
  • Corneal Diseases* / veterinary
  • Debridement / methods
  • Debridement / veterinary
  • Dog Diseases* / surgery
  • Dogs
  • Retrospective Studies