Acta Vet. Brno 2016, 85: 247-250

The viper fangs: clinical anatomy, principles of physical examination and therapy (a review)

Matteo Oliveri, Eva Čermáková, Zdeněk Knotek

University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic, Brno, Czech Republic

Received January 7, 2016
Accepted August 31, 2016

The assessment of fangs is a fundamental part of clinical examination of viperid snakes. The long curved venom fang is carried by short, highly mobile maxilla. Short anaesthesia is advised for safe physical examination and radiography of the mouth cavity. The fangs are gently forced outside the fang pocket by passing the bar or forceps on the palato-maxillary arch, and rotating them rostrally shifting the mucosal fold. Functional fangs are periodically shed and several generations of replacement teeth lie behind and beneath each fang. In case of fang fracture, therapy should be limited to flushing with a solution of chlorhexidine or povidone iodine, and topical application of pro-coagulant and antibacterial cream. Therapy of chronic fang inflammation is based on removal of necrotized fang and repeated abundant irrigation of the fang pocket. Treatment of chronic stomatitis consists of flushing with chlorhexidine or povidone iodine, physical removal of the plaques, administration of analgesics and antibiotics (marbofloxacin, enrofloxacin or ceftazidime). Extra-oral surgical approach is the best method for odontogenic abscess removal. A vigorous flushing with sterile saline solution, chlorhexidine and povidone iodine and topical application of antibiotics (antibiotic embedded surgical sponge) is advised. Force feeding of the anorectic patient suffering from fang inflammation is a mandatory part of the standard treatment protocol.


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