We met Abby back in December 2013. She is a five year old female spayed West Highland White Terrier who was referred to us for persistent oral pain. Her referring veterinarian had recently performed a dental procedure and removed several infected teeth, but Abby didn’t normalize after her mouth had healed. She was referred to us for dental radiographs (x-rays) and further treatment.
After placing Abby under general anesthesia, we performed a complete oral exam and noticed an area of swelling on the left lower jaw. We took digital dental radiographs and were able to visualize bone loss on the lower jaw and around some of the remaining tooth roots. We extracted the involved teeth and biopsied/sampled the surrounding soft tissue and bone. We sent the biopsy samples to our referral lab for evaluation. Below is a picture of her jaw with the visible swelling after Abby was anesthetized.
Unfortunately, the biopsy revealed that Abby had a type of oral cancer called Squamous Cell Carcinoma. After consulting with a veterinary oncologist, we proceeded to sample the regional lymph node and took chest radiographs to look for any spread of the cancer. Fortunately, no further evidence of cancer was found.
Because this tumor was so invasive (affected the soft tissue and bone in the jaw), the only possible attempt at a cure was to perform a surgery called a segmental mandibulectomy or hemimandibulectomy. These surgical procedures involve removing a large section or half of the jaw.
Abby’s family chose to proceed with surgery and Dr. Smith performed a segmental mandibulectomy. Essentially, he removed the entire lower jaw on the left side behind the large canine tooth. Remarkably, Abby began eating soft food the day following surgery!
Abby never looked back after surgery and has made a full recovery. She eats dry dog food and plays with her toys. Because surgical margins are typically fairly narrow in this procedure, we will be closely monitoring Abby for any signs of recurrence. Below is a picture of the left side of Abby’s face now that she has healed. Abby is an incredible little girl and we look forward to many more years of her smiling face!