Marmite’s Marvellous Mandible

Following a freak accident involving a head on collision with another vulture during a flying display at Muncaster Castle, Marmite the hooded vulture was left with an open fracture to her jawbone/lower beak, which is a serious, potentially life-threatening situation.

The fracture was clearly very unstable with significant bleeding from the oral cavity and so she was rushed down the M6 as an emergency to AVS.

X-rays confirmed fractures to both sides of the mandible which required surgical intervention to try and stabilise the fracture and counteract the powerful tearing forces of a vulture’s beak.

Although the beak is incredibly strong the bones supporting it are actually quite fine and so some tiny threaded pins were carefully inserted into the mandible either side of the fracture site and linked together with a thermally activated acrylic material, which is actually designed for hoof repair in horses.

As well as binding the pins together to form an ‘external skeletal fixator’ (ESF) the acrylic was moulded to the contours of the beak to offer additional stability.

Despite its bulky appearance Marmite tolerated the device extremely well and was eating soft, chopped up food the very next day.

The ESF device was left in place for just over 4 weeks when x-rays demonstrated good solid callus formation with the end pin just starting to loosen up.

With the aid of our trusty Dremel tool, the fixator was removed, and we were all extremely happy with the results both functionally and cosmetically.

Marmite is now once again back at flight school, but just needs a bit of work on her ‘Top Gun’ turns!!

Marmite’s Marvellous Mandible
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