Treatment option for retrobulbar abscesses in rabbits

The objective of this study was to characterize the epidemiologic features of rabbits with retrobulbar abscesses, including the clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment, and outcome.

The medical record database of a veterinary teaching hospital was searched from 2011 to 2022 for records of rabbits diagnosed with retrobulbar abscesses by CT. Data reviewed included age, breed, presenting complaint, association with an odontogenic infection, aerobic and anaerobic culture results, treatment, and outcome.

Twenty-one client-owned rabbits were enrolled. The primary presenting complaint was exophthalmos (19/21 [90%]). Most cases (15/21 [71%]) were associated with an odontogenic infection. Dental disease, not associated with a retrobulbar abscess (14/21 [67%]), was a common comorbidity on CT. The most common aerobic and anaerobic isolates were Streptococcus intermedius (5/12 [42%]) and Fusobacterium nucleatum (2/12 [17%]), respectively. Surgical treatment combined with long-term systemic antibiotic therapy was performed in 9 of 21 (43%) cases. It included intraoral tooth extraction (4/9 [44%]) versus extraoral peribulbar abscess lancing with either abscess packing with antibiotic-soaked gauze (3/9 [33%]) or surgical abscess debridement (2/9 [22%]). Resolution of the clinical signs with no recurrence for at least 6 months occurred in 7 of 9 (78%) surgically treated cases. Medical treatment with long-term systemic antibiotic therapy was performed in 4 of 21 (19%) cases, and 3 of 4 (75%) resolved. Due to poor prognosis or financial concerns, euthanasia was performed or recommended in 8 of 21 (38%) cases.

On the basis of the data from this study, retrobulbar abscesses in rabbits carry a guarded prognosis. When intraoral and extraoral surgical treatment options combined with systemic antibiotic therapy were used, it resolved clinical disease in most cases.

“Long-term systemic antibiotics and surgical treatment can be an effective treatment option for retrobulbar abscesses in rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus): 21 cases (2011-2022)”. Ivana Levy, e al. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2023 Jul 14;1-7.  doi: 10.2460/javma.23.05.0226.

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