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J Feline Med Surg. 2018 Dec;20(12):1180-1191. doi: 10.1177/1098612X17737433. Epub 2017 Nov 8.

Open-mouth jaw locking in cats: a literature review and use of CT in three cases.

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1 University of Bristol School of Veterinary Sciences, Small Animal Referral Hospital, Bristol, UK.
2 San Siro Veterinary Clinic, Milan, Italy.



This report summarises and reviews the published cases of open-mouth jaw locking in cats and describes three further cases. Case 1 was a 5-year-old, 5.3 kg male neutered domestic shorthair cat. CT identified changes consistent with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysplasia with osseous degenerative changes, and the cat subsequently underwent bilateral partial zygomectomy with bilateral partial coronoidectomy. Case 2 was a 10-year-old, 6.0 kg male neutered Exotic Shorthair. Aside from a fracture of the left maxillary canine tooth crown and absence of the left maxillary fourth premolar tooth, no abnormalities were found on CT scan. The cat also underwent bilateral partial zygomectomy with bilateral partial coronoidectomy. The third case was a 1-year-old, 4.0 kg male neutered Persian cat. Changes on CT were consistent with bilateral TMJ dysplasia, and the cat underwent staged bilateral partial zygomectomy with bilateral partial coronoidectomy. There was no recurrence of open-mouth jaw locking in any of the cases on long-term follow-up.


Open-mouth jaw locking has been reported in cats of a wide range of ages, from 1-10 years. Cats with all skull types (brachycephalic, mesaticephalic and dolichocephalic) may be affected, but brachycephalic breeds seem to be over-represented. A CT scan with the jaw locked in place is recommended for diagnosis and surgical planning purposes; two of the cases reported here document the first cases of TMJ dysplasia in cats to be definitively diagnosed using CT. Trauma and symphyseal or TMJ laxity may also predispose to development of the condition. Partial coronoidectomy and partial zygomatic arch resection performed alone or in combination are generally successful at preventing recurrence. Bilateral partial zygomectomy with bilateral partial coronoidectomy has not previously been reported as a surgical treatment, and is recommended when open-mouth jaw locking occurs bilaterally.


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