Posted By: Josh - Vet

Repair of broken Jaw allows Simba to eat again

Cats are inquisitive by nature and natural hunters, which often means that come night time many will venture outdoors to explore their surroundings and exhibit ancestral behaviours. Not uncommonly they bring back their catches to display to their owners! Unfortunately, because of these behaviours, it is not unusual for cats to be brought into us having sustained injuries while outside where the cause is unknown.

A significant proportion of these injuries appear to be traumatic in origin, and occasionally being hit by motor vehicles is suspected. Simba, a 4.5 year old female DSH, was brought into us after being found by her owners one morning holding her mouth open and not wanting to eat. Cats naturally breathe through their noses, so for a cat to hold their mouth open often means they are either having serious breathing difficulties, have a blocked nose, or have injured their jaw.

On examination Simba’s lower jaw appear to have separated right down the middle as a significant gap could be seen between the front teeth. This is often the result of trauma to the head as the lower jaw is actually made up of 2 halves connected down the centre by a combination of fibrous and cartilaginous connective tissue.

Simba also had some bleeding within her eye and back of the mouth, and a broken lower canine tooth. Without corrective surgery Simba’s jaw would be very unlikely to fuse back together given the movement and separation between the 2 halves. After discussion, X-rays were taken of the skull to assess the extent of the damage.

Another break in the jaw bone was found further back from the separation but in an area which should not cause an issue with eating/drinking and will likely heal by its own accord. Additionally the nasal passages were seen to be filled with blood, contributing to the breathing with an open mouth. The heart and lungs all looked ok, along with the rest of the spine and limbs. As the jaw separation was the only injury which would be detrimental to Simba in the long run, repair was opted for.  

Whilst under an anaesthetic the broken lower canine tooth was removed before a small wire was placed around the two halves of the jaw. The ends of the wire were left extending through the skin underneath the chin and wound together tightly to bring the jaw back into place. The ends of the wires were cut and Simba was sent home on antibiotics and pain relief. After a couple of days she was back eating and drinking normally and the owners report she is doing very well.

The wire will need to be removed 4-6 weeks after being placed once the jaw has securely fused, after which Simba should be completely back to normal.


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