Palatal Cleft Repair in a Lion (Panthera leo)
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2009
M.A. Gioso; R.S. Fecchio; J.L. Rossi Jr.; A.L.V. Nunes; F.B. Rassy; C. Moura
Laboratory of Comparative Dentistry LOC-FMVZ-USP / Brazil, Cidade Universitária, São Paulo, Brazil


Oronasal communications may be the result of congenital bone defect, traumatic separation of bone, and resorption associated with dental diseases (Harvey 1997). Congenital and traumatic palatal defects are most of the time characterized by a midline (sagittal palatal suture) defect (Wiggs and Lobprise 1997). The hard palate is composed of paired bones fused on the midline. Surgical repair is never an emergency in animals with severe maxillo-facial trauma. It is noticed that a detailed evaluation of the Zoo animal's oral cavity can only be accomplished when the animal is contained chemically and, therefore, it should be part of any accomplished physical exam when the animal be anesthetized for another procedures (Fecchio et al. 2008, Amand & Tinkelman 1985, Kertsz 1993).

Materials and Methods

A 6-years-old, female lion was anesthetized in Sorocaba Zoo to endodontic procedures in upper canine teeth and we could observe three perforation of the hard palate and subsequent exposure of the nasal turbinates. There was no history of other medical problems and clinical signals associated to this palatal cleft, and this animal was fed very well. In this first procedure we could realize the endodontics treatments, but we decided to realize a palatal correction in another time (30 days before). Surgical reconstruction of the hard palate defect was accomplished by developing one set of tissue flap that would overlap the cleft. Attached base of flap from the rostral border of cleft and extended to approximately 3 centimeter. This flap was parallel of the cleft and sufficient length to be able to be sutured above all defect. The cranial and lateral edges of this flap were sutured to the caudal border of the cleft with 2-0 nylon simple-continuous suture. Approximately 60 days after this lion was anesthetized together and we could saw a satisfactory cicatrization.

Discussion and Conclusions

In Zoo and Wild animals, the post surgical accomplishment is very difficult and we need to select the better surgical technical to minimize another injuries and new anesthetic procedures. The exam of the oral cavity in zoo and wild animals, seeking to detect and to correct problems in a precocious way, should be part of a program of general evaluation of the animal health.


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2.  Harvey CE. 1997. Palate defects in dogs and cats. Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian, 9: 405-418.

3.  Fecchio RS, Gomes MS, Rossi Jr JL, Gioso MA. 2008. Oral diseases in captive Capuchin monkeys. Exotic DVM Magazine, 10 (2): 15-20.

4.  Amand WB, Tinkelman CL. 1985. Oral disease in captive wild animals, p. 289-308. In: Harvey C. (Ed.) Veterinary Dentistry. W.B. Saunders Company.

5.  Kertesz P. 1993. A colour atlas of veterinary dentistry and oral surgery. Wolfe Publishing, Aylesbury.


Speaker Information
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Marco Antonio Gioso, DVM, DDS, DAVDC, PhD
FMVZ-USP Departamento de Cirurgia
Cidade Universitária
São Paulo, SP, Brazil

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