Harvey, a much loved 4 year old cocker spaniel, is rushed in as an emergency with a fractured jaw. Prof Noel sees the little dog immediately for mum Nicola and her sister Kim. The front part of the jaw bone (mandible) has had a very nasty break but the true extent of the injury won’t be clear until Harvey goes through for imaging.



A worried Nicola and Kim suspect that during one of Harvey’s run arounds in the garden he has hit something with such significant force that has fractured the front part of his jaw downwards.

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The 3D CT image shows the front part of Harvey’s jaw that has broken

When Noel and Surgical Resident vet Padraig review the x-ray images and the CT scan they can see that the end of Harvey’s jaw has completely snapped off. It is a complex fracture, with very narrow delicate bones.

Noel and Padraig decide to try something neither of them have attempted before. Noel fits Harvey’s jaw with a metal brace that holds the broken bones back in place using the teeth as anchors for various loops of wire, each wrapped around individual teeth. Padraig then coats the brace with acrylic to protect Harvey’s gums from the knots of the metal work, to seal the construct together, and to ensure that the brace support is rigid.

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After: The CT image that shows the brace holding Harvey’s jaw together

Over the next few days Harvey makes great progress, and is comfortable and eating well at the practice. Harvey is able to go home for a few weeks while the jaw continues to heal, but it will be at least 6 weeks until he can have the brace removed. The brace will need to be cleaned with toothpaste and Harvey will have to tolerate his collar because otherwise he could damage the braces or his mouth with his paws.

After a few weeks at home Nicola returns to Fitzpatrick Referrals with Harvey, fingers crossed that the news is good, that the brace has worked and the bone has healed. When Noel and Padraig take a look, thankfully the news is great – the bone is fully healed and solid, and the team are delighted! Off comes the brace and Harvey at long last can have his collar off.

Harvey is now darting around the place as he was before! The family couldn’t be happier to have their boy back, and are looking forward to a family Christmas together.