Jaw-dropping surgery makes Jess our March Pet of the Month

Jess’s owner had noticed a funny, fleshy growth in front of her upper incisors on the front of her top jaw (maxilla) and brought Jess in for us to examine her. We identified the growth as a tumour and initially took a biopsy under general anaesthetic to find out exactly what kind of tumour Jess was suffering from so we could plan treatment accordingly. We needed to know how likely the tumour was to regrow post surgery and hence how aggressive we needed to be to remove the tumour successfully. Jess had a plasmacytoma which, if left in situ, would have continued to grow, causing increasing pain and issues with eating.

Planning maxilla surgery is essential. The surgery is technically quite demanding. With some very important structures in and around the jaw and face, there is very little room for error. It is also really important to reconstruct the mouth and gum to produce a good cosmetic result at the end of the operation.

The surgery itself involved firstly injecting local anaesthetic to block the nerves (like we might have at the dentist) to improve post-op pain relief. We then removed the teeth around the tumour site, some of which were already loose because of the tumour, so that their roots did not get in the way of where we needed to remove the bone of Jess’s maxilla. Next, we cut the gum and reflected it out of the way before using a surgical saw to remove the section of bone with the tumour growing in it: we made sure that we cut well away from the tumour itself. We were then able to close the gum back over the deficit as shown in the photograph, with the tumour removed.

We were really pleased with the surgery and the gum closed very neatly as planned. Jess has made an excellent recovery and you wouldn’t even know she had had any of her jaw removed.