Reptile sandy and her mandibular fracture x rays

Sandy was then taken to the operating theatre, once she was stable.  Sandy was still very quiet so she needed no sedation to take the picture that you can see.

Sandy had two breaks in her lower mandible (jaw).  The bone had snapped.  One of the breaks was very close to where the two jaws meet.  This area is called the mandibular symphysis.  The other breaks were at the back of the mandible.  These are less distinct and have been caused by been shaken or rotated.  The bone has folded.  Reptile bone is extremely strong and robust.  Huge force would have been required to cause the injury.

I then had to plan what to do with her injury.  Reptile bone is good to work with.  It holds metal plates and pins well.  However, Sandy’s break was at point in the bone where it was so thin, it would not hold any pins on the inside of the bone.

There was also feeding and hydration to consider.  In the hospital

The arrows point to all the breaks in Sandy's head

The arrows point to all the breaks in Sandy’s head

, the nurses are able to deliver fluids by injection.  This is given either under the skin or into the body cavity (coelom). When Sandy was safe to go home she was going to need to be supported with food, water and medication.

Hepatic lipidosis is the silent killer of reptiles.  After a short period of time without eating, the reptile starts to use stored fat from within  the body.  Bearded dragons have fat pads on   either side of the coelom.  The fat is supposed to give energy to the body and allow damaged tissue to be repaired.  However, reptiles do not handle periods of starvation well. This is particularly true when they are ill.  Tortoises are masters at starvation but even they can be made unwell by hepatic lipdosis.  The fat swamps the liver and stops it from working.  Dehydration often leads to kidney failure too, so it is imperative to support a sick reptile.