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What is Mandibular Condylectomy?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the condylar joint that connects the mandible and the temporal bone and provides movement to the jaw that allows eating and vocalization in your cat. This joint can be subject to organic disease resulting in dysfunction, or fracture and dislocations from trauma. The resulting TMJ condition is a cat that cannot open or close its jaw adequately to eat and clean itself and surgical intervention may be required. If dislocation or damage to the TMJ occurs, a mandibular condylectomy to modify or remove the mandibular condylar joint and replace it may be performed by your veterinarian under anesthesia.

Mandibular Condylectomy Procedure in Cats

If TMJ disorder is suspected, radiographic tests will be used to determine the exact nature of disease or injury and its effect on TMJ functioning. Your veterinarian will develop a plan to repair the condyle joint by removing or modifying part of the joint or, if necessary, removing the joint and replacing it.

You will need to fast your cat prior to anesthesia, although TMJ disorder may already preclude food intake. Because an intubation tube obstructs surgery in the oral cavity, anesthesia may be maintained intravenously for the procedure. Once your cat has been put into a deep sleep with anesthetic, the surgeon will make incisions to expose the TMJ condylar joint. Modifications to the joint to allow it to return to its normal position, remove damaged or diseased tissue, or repair with synthetic materials will be conducted. If removal of the joint is necessary, a prosthetic device may be required. Stents and wires may be used in the reconstructive process or to immobilize the mandibular condylar joint during healing. After removal and repair of the joint is conducted, incisions will be sutured and your cat will be put into recovery. Supportive care will be required post-surgery, which will include administration of intravenous fluids and may include feeding via a feeding tube. Your cat may be hospitalized and observed for up to 24 hours or more prior to being released home, depending on the severity of their condition. Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and painkillers will be administered as part of supportive care.

Efficacy of Mandibular Condylectomy in Cats

Removal of condylar joint tissue in your cat to allow jaw motion is an effective method of addressing multiple TMJ disorders when less invasive treatments are not adequate. Condylectomy may need to be combined with reconstructive procedures in order to restore the maximum amount of jaw function to your pet. 

Mandibular Condylectomy Recovery in Cats

During recovery, you will need to keep your cat quiet with limited activity and exposure to other pets. You will be required to monitor the incision site and flush out the oral cavity several times daily with sterile solution to ensure food and bacteria does not reside in the incision area. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories may be prescribed by your veterinarian and should be administered as directed. Food may need to be administered by feeding tube, or liquid nourishment provided by syringe into the oral cavity if the jaw is wired during healing. In some cases, soft food may be administered for a few weeks post surgery until adequate healing occurs. If your cat stops eating or signs of infection or other complications occur, seek veterinary assistance. 

Cost of Mandibular Condylectomy in Cats

The cost of mandibular condylectomy in your cat ranges from $500-$2,000 depending on cost of living and degree of surgical intervention required.

Cat Mandibular Condylectomy Considerations

Infection and risk of complications during administration of anesthetic are possible with this procedure. Also, there is a risk for facial nerve injury and the range of jaw movement will be limited post-surgery. Radiographs of TMJ structures and a plan for removal and repair should be discussed prior to surgery so risks and expected results are well understood.

Mandibular Condylectomy Prevention in Cats

Preventing your cat from experiencing accidents, especially motor vehicle accidents, fights, and falls that are more likely to occur with outdoor activity will reduce the likelihood of mandibular condylectomy being required. Ensure that your cat’s outdoor activity is monitored, preferably in an enclosed area or on a leash. Also, prompt treatment of infections in or near the oral cavity is necessary to ensure that mandibular joint functioning does not become impaired or the TMJ tissue affected or damaged by bacterial infections. Regular veterinary care to identify issues at an early stage will aid in preventing conditions that require surgical intervention.