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What is Partial Mandibulectomy?

Partial mandibulectomy is a procedure that involves the partial removal of the lower jaw. This procedure is most often used to treat oral cancers affecting the mandible. Partial mandibulectomy may be recommended to treat dogs who have an oral fracture. For fractures, partial mandibulectomy is typically only utilized as a last resort, or as a treatment method for fractures that do not respond to other treatments. Partial mandibulectomy should not be confused with total mandibulectomy, which is the removal of the entire lower jaw.

Partial Mandibulectomy Procedure in Dogs

  1. If the dog has cancer, it may require stabilization prior to surgery.
  2. Once the dog is in a stable condition, it will be anesthetized.
  3. The surgeon will first evaluate the portion of the mandible that requires removal, identifying and locating all tumors or fractures and outlining the portions to be excised.
  4. If the dog requires partial mandibulectomy for an oral fracture, the surgeon will take x-rays prior to surgery.
  5. The surgeon may need to remove one or two teeth in order to gain full access to the portion of the mandible that requires removal.
  6. The skin surrounding the jaw will be clipped before the mouth is rinsed with an antiseptic solution.
  7. The dog may be intubated, and gauze sponges will be placed to absorb intraoperative bleeding.
  8. The surgeon may choose to inject local anesthetic into the oral cavity.
  9. Two incisions will be made into the gum tissue in order to remove it and gain access to the bone.
  10. The affected portion of bone will be removed as quickly as possible. The edges of the mandible will be smoothed to prevent discomfort.
  11. The surgeon will then ensure all tumors have been removed before suturing the wound closed with absorbable sutures in three to four layers.
  12. The dog will be hospitalized and monitored, and will not be allowed to eat for the remainder of the day.
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Efficacy of Partial Mandibulectomy in Dogs

Partial mandibulectomy is generally considered an excellent treatment method for dogs suffering from conditions that require this form of treatment. The procedure relieves the dog’s pain and many owners report that their dogs feel and act better following treatment. Partial mandibulectomy can be curative for benign tumors. The procedure can increase the duration and quality of life for dogs suffering from aggressive malignant cancers. However, it should be noted that certain malignant cancers, particularly melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma, can recur even with surgery.

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Partial Mandibulectomy Recovery in Dogs

Dogs will typically recover from partial mandibulectomy within three days and will need to wear an Elizabethan collar to avoid irritating the surgery site. If severe infection has occurred, antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatories may be prescribed postoperatively. Injectable analgesics are prescribed in most cases to manage postoperative pain for the first few days. Oral analgesics will replace injectable analgesics once the dog has adjusted. Following surgery, the owner may need to feed their dog soft food by hand. Dogs may not be allowed to eat hard food or chew hard objects for up to a month after treatment. 

Dogs may struggle to eat food, drink water, and position their tongue normally for the first few days following surgery. However, dogs usually adjust very quickly. Owners may notice a clicking sound when the dog eats or excessive drooling. This is normal. The veterinarian will schedule a follow-up appointment within ten to fourteen days following surgery. During this appointment, the veterinarian will take x-rays or biopsy to monitor healing and ensure the condition has not recurred.

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Cost of Partial Mandibulectomy in Dogs

The cost of partial mandibulectomy will vary depending on additional costs incurred, including screenings, medications, and supportive care. The cost of partial mandibulectomy ranges from $1,200 to $6,000, with an average cost of $2,500.

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Dog Partial Mandibulectomy Considerations

Though it typically has a very high success rate, two complications are possible following partial mandibulectomy. One is the development of palatal occlusal trauma in the soft tissue of the mouth. This condition will typically resolve on its own and is not considered serious. However, if it continues to affect a dog’s ability to eat or function normally, owners should consult their trusted veterinarian immediately. The other potential complication is wound rupture.

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Partial Mandibulectomy Prevention in Dogs

It is often difficult to prevent oral cancers because they are typically a spontaneous occurrence. Owners should not allow their dogs to engage in activities that may result in oral fracture.

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Partial Mandibulectomy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Ask a Vet

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Dragon

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Siberian Husky

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4 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Drooling
Difficulty Eating
Tumor

It all started about two months ago, when we noticed a small growth in between the front two molars of our dogs lower right jaw. We thought nothing of it at first, but when it tripled in size after about ten days of noticing it, we decided to take him in. Our vet removed the growth and one of the teeth that the growth had basically “wrapped” itself around, and sent it off for a biopsy. Unfortunately, it came back testing positive for squamous cell sarcoma. We were referred to an oncology center, and they quickly recommended a partial mandibulectomy. It seemed scary at first, but faced with the fact that he may lose his life within the year if we didn’t act, we didn’t hesitate. We set a date, and after a CT scan showed the tumor site had eaten about 3/4 of the way through his Lowe jaw, they decided to move quickly to remove a section of his lower jaw. He went in for surgery on a Thursday afternoon, which went well - and we picked him up the next day about 28 hours later. He didn’t seem to be in a severe amount of pain, but he was definitely having trouble eating and drinking water at first, which is totally normal. The oncology center said it’ll take about four weeks for him to fully recover from the surgery, but so far - it seems like he will get on just fine. We were lucky to find the cancer so early - the oncology center estimated that our boy has a 91% cure rate!!

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