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FRACTURES of the mandible are the most common fractures of the cranium in cattle (Elma 1988). The interdental space (diastema), the molar region and the symphysis represent the most common fracture locations (Dirksen 1978, Turner 1984, Adams and Fessler 1988).
Fractures of the mandible may occur if cattle become trapped in the feeding grid and try to escape; in cases of dystocia, by the forced use of a mandibular loop to assist manual extraction of the calf; and as a consequence of a severe trauma such as slipping and falling on a hard surface or hitting the head on a solid object (Dirksen 1978, Adams and Fessler 1988, Nuss and others 1991).
The conservative management of mandibular fractures in cattle carries a poor prognosis, because the animals are unable to chew and therefore lose weight rapidly until they are generally exhausted (Dirksen 1978). The main goal of surgical treatment of mandibular fractures is to achieve adequate temporary stabilisation of the main fragments to allow pain-free mastication and rumination until sufficient callus is present to stabilise the fracture (Turner 1984).
This short communication describes external fixation of an open infected symphyseal fracture of the mandible in an adult dairy cow, using a cerclage wire anchored to the incisors.
A 58-month-old Holstein dairy cow was referred to the Clinic for Ruminants, Vetsuisse-Faculty, University of Bern, Switzerland, with a history of complete anorexia and severe salivation of five days' duration. The cow was kept in a free-stall barn in a herd of 30 dairy cows. The animal's daily milk yield had decreased from 35 kg before the injury to 20 kg on the day of admission.
On clinical examination, the rectal temperature was 39.1°C, the heart rate was 80 bpm and the respiratory rate was 32 …