Many of our pets are diagnosed with a fracture, tumor, or cancer of jaw. The mandible and maxilla are the bones that form the jaw in dogs and cats.
Tumor of Jaw
Many breeds are predisposed along with larger breed dogs like Golden Retriever, Labrador, German Shepherd etc. Common tumors are:
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Ameloblastoma (Epulis)
How is this diagnosed?
You, your family veterinarian and our veterinary surgeons will use multiple diagnostic tools to confirm a jaw tumor in your pet friend. You may notice a swelling, red fleshy mass, difficulty in chewing or eating. Your primary care veterinarian will do a physical exam and biopsy or a fine needle aspiration test to confirm the tumor. We complete the diagnostic process by performing a thorough oral examination, follow up x rays under sedation and/or general anesthesia and a CT scan. A CT scan is one of the most valuable tool in correctly imaging the tumor for surgical planning.
Surgery of Jaw Tumors
The first line of defense in a dog/cat diagnosed with an oral tumor affecting its jaw is surgical resection. Tumors located in the front and middle portion of the jaws have a better prognosis. Under general anesthesia, a mandibulectomy or maxillectomy is performed to resect the tumor out with margins. During mandibulectomy or maxillectomy, a segment of jaw is removed depending the size and location of the tumor.
Following surgery dogs recover very well and can go back to eating right away. In cats we may recommend adding a feeding tube post removal of a segment of its jaw.
Fracture of Jaw
Most commonly, the lower jaw (mandible) is fractured during a hit by car incident or fall. Your primary care veterinarian will perform a physical examination and survey X-rays to diagnose the fracture of mandible. Many dogs and cats will also need x rays of chest and abdomen to rule out other injuries. Once trauma patients are stabilized a surgery of the mandible is performed.
Surgery of Fractured Mandible/Skull
Dr. Jha and his team may recommend a CT scan before surgery for proper planning. We use plates, wire, or an external fixator to repair a fractured mandible. Post surgery pets are kept in the hospital for 1-2 days until they are eating and less painful.