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Fracture of the Mandible in Cats

By: Dr. David Diamond

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After discharge from the hospital, the animal must be restricted from activity to allow the fracture time to heal properly. Activity must be restricted for several weeks after surgery; the duration will vary depending on the severity of the injury and any concurrent injuries the animal may have. Restricted activity means that the animal should be kept confined to a carrier, crate, or small room whenever he cannot be supervised. Playing and rough-housing should be avoided, even if he appears to be feeling well. It is especially important that cats with mandibular fractures not be allowed to chew on toys or other objects and be fed only soft food or blenderized gruel.

Animals whose fracture was repaired with an external fixation device will have pins exiting the skin. The "pin tracts" should be monitored daily for excessive swelling or discharge. Some discharge is normal and any crusty build-up that occurs at these sites can be gently cleaned with warm water.

Fractures that are repaired with internal fixation (wires or bone plates and screws) will have a skin incision under the jaw that needs to be monitored daily for signs of excessive swelling or discharge. These can indicate problems with the incision or infection.

  • Analgesics (pain medications) or anti-inflammatory medications should be given as directed by the veterinarian. Analgesics, such as butorphanol (Torbugesic®) can cause sedation, and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin can cause upset stomach. Your veterinarian should be informed if any adverse side effects do occur.

  • If at any point prior to the follow-up evaluation the cat stops eating after some improvement following surgery or if a bad odor is present in the mouth, there could be a problem. Again, the animal's veterinarian should be notified.

  • Several weeks after surgery a follow-up appointment will be needed. The jaw may need to be radiographed again to make sure the bone is healing properly. If healing has occurred as expected, the external fixator, symphyseal wire, or other wires placed around the teeth will be removed and the animal's activity level and diet will be allowed to return to normal.

  • In general, any other implants that were used in the repair under the skin will be left in place unless they cause a problem at some point in the future. Potential problems can include migration (movement) or infection of the implants.

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