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UAE doctors help man eat, speak clearly after 10 years

Ten years ago Salem met with a terrible accident while driving in Dubai.

UAE doctors help man eat, speak clearly after 10 years
Consultations with a number of doctors did not bear fruit and Salem ended up with a locked jaw for 10 long years

Being able to eat a shawarma again and to speak clearly after along gap of 10 years was a day Muhammed Salem thought would never come.

Ten years ago Salem met with a terrible accident while driving in Dubai. The accident left him severely injured in the head and with a broken jaw.

While he survived and recovered from the accident, he realized that his jaws were slowly becoming rigid. Soon after, he could no longer open his mouth to talk or even eat. His communication was incoherent because he was only able to move his lips and tongue.

“I was being fed a liquid diet through a tube,” Salem said. “When I spoke, no one understood,” the 39-year-old said while speaking to Khaleej Times from Syria where he is currently recuperating. All medicines were also being crushed or were administered in a liquid form.

Consultations with a number of doctors did not bear fruit and Salem ended up with a locked jaw for 10 long years until he visited NMC Royal Hospital in Abu Dhabi to improve his mobility which was restricted due to spinal injuries caused by the accident. There he met Dr Joseph Kamal Muhammad, Head of Department and Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon.

“Due the road accident, his lower jaw had fractured and got fused to his skull because of which there was no movement at both his jaw joints,” said the doctor.

The condition is called bilateral temporomandibular joint (TMJ) ankylosis. A condition in which the jaw joint becomes a mass of fused bone after improper fracture healing.

“I was hopeful that the fusion at both his jaw joints could be released to enable him open his mouth freely yet having done such surgeries on children previously, I recognised that such complex surgery would need a through teamwork and careful planning as one of the major risks associated with the surgical release of the jaw joint is the possibility of an injury to major blood vessels and hence serious bleeding,” said Dr Joseph.

A CT scan angiography showed that the position of the blood vessels was near the mass of fused bone, so in view of the potential vascular complications associated with any proposed surgery in the region, a consultant vascular surgeon was also called in to work alongside.

Explaining the complication of the procedure, Dr Kamal added, “Before any surgery could be done, one serious challenge lay ahead. How does one give general anesthesia to a patient who cannot open his mouth as there are tubes and other gadgets which are required to be placed via the oral cavity?”

Collaboration with the anesthesiology team and an ENT consultant ensured that the procedure was safe.

“A muscle taken from another part of his body had to be fixed between the jaws to prevent them from locking again,” said the doctor.

“The result is that the patient can now open his mouth for the first time in 10 years. He is making good progress following his surgery,” he added.

“He does regular mouth opening exercises to ensure that the result is permanent and recently enjoyed an Eid meal with his family after ten long years of suffering.”

“You cannot imagine how happy I was after eating shawarma, really happy.the doctors saved my life,” said Salem.