Osteoarthritis of the temporomandibular joint in Southern Sea Otters (Enhydra lutris nereis)

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13 Scopus citations


Museum skull specimens ( n=1,008) of southern sea otters ( Enhydra lutris nereis) were examined macroscopically according to defined criteria for the presence, severity and characteristics of temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis (TMJ-OA). The specimens were from stranded young adult to adult animals. Overall, 4.1% of the specimens had findings consistent with TMJ-OA. Of these, 61.0% were from females and 39.0% were from males. In addition, 85.4% of the affected specimens were from adults and 14.6% were from young adults. However, there was no significant association between age and sex with the presence or severity of TMJ-OA. Lesion severity was mild in 41.5%, moderate in 19.5% and severe in 39.0% of affected specimens. The most prominent changes were the presence of osteophytes and subchondral bone defects and porosity. The mandibular condylar process and fossa were affected equally. The lengths of the right and left mandibular heads were significantly associated with age ( P=0.002 and P=0.003, respectively) and sex ( P=0.0009 and P=0.001, respectively), but not with the presence of TMJ-OA. The significance of this disease in sea otters remains elusive, but this condition may play an important role in survival of these animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-494
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Comparative Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Enhydra lutris nereis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sea otter
  • Temporomandibular joint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • veterinary(all)


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