Clinician: Equine Ear Infections Might Spread to TMJ

A case study found swelling and pain in the upper jaw between the eye and the ear might indicate an infection in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) area.
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Clinician: Equine Ear Infections Might Spread to TMJ
Standing robotic cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) of the head. | Courtesy Dr. Kyla Ortved
Swelling and pain in the upper jaw between the eye and the ear might indicate an infection in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) area. And it’s possible that the infection initially started as a middle ear infection that moved down into the TMJ, researchers recently reported.

Veterinarians can use standing robotic cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) of the head to detect these simultaneous infections and, in some cases, can treat them through standing arthroscopy, said Kyla Ortved, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, Jacques Jenny Endowed Term Chair of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

In comparison to standard CT, CBCT does not rely on a closed gantry (the circular “tunnel” where technicians place the part of the body to be scanned). Instead, CBCT images are collected using a robotic arm that rotates around the horse’s head, capturing focused images from radiography (X rays) directed through a cone in a way that allows for 3D imaging. “Three-dimensional imaging (with a CT scan) is invaluable when examining complex structures like the skull, especially when you are trying to diagnosis an unusual disease,” Ortved said.

Standing Arthroscopy Successful in Treating Ear and TMJ Infection

Arthroscopy in the standing, sedated horse can provide a safe way to explore, clean, and treat TMJ infections, at a lower cost than the same surgery under general anesthesia, said Ortved, citing the case of a Thoroughbred with otitis media (middle ear infection) and a TMJ infection

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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