Long-term evaluation of arthroscopic discectomy of the temporomandibular joint using the Holmium YAG laser

R Mazzonetto, D B Spagnoli
Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 2001, 59 (9): 1018-23; discussion 1024

PURPOSE: The goal of this study was to evaluate the clinical results with arthroscopic discectomy using a Holmium YAG laser for treatment of patients with pain and dysfunction and large disc perforations resulting by advanced internal derangement.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: The subjects comprised 30 patients (38 joints) who underwent arthroscopic discectomy with Holmium YAG laser. All patients had chronic pain, restricted range of motion, and a diagnosis of disc perforation (Wilkes stage IV to V of internal derangement). All patients had not responded to conventional nonsurgical treatment (eg, appliance therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy) or previous temporomandibular joint (TMJ) arthroscopy. All patients filled out a questionnaire preoperatively and postoperatively for assessment of their signs and symptoms. The questionnaire consisted of a visual analog scale (VAS) with items on pain and diet.

RESULTS: The overall success rate for arthroscopy discectomy using a Holmium YAG laser was 93.33% (28 of 30 patients) in a mean follow-up of 31.7 months. No complications were observed in this study. Maximal interincisal opening improved from a mean of 25.40 to 39.96 mm after 18 months or more from surgery. The subjective data elicited from VAS scores showed a significant improvement in pain score, in interference of pain with normal diet, and effect of pain on life in general. All preoperative scores were significantly different from postoperative scores (P <.05).

CONCLUSIONS: On the basis of this follow-up study, arthroscopic discectomy for treatment of large disc perforations seems to provide an effective treatment for TMJ pain and dysfunction, decreasing the pain and improving the range of motion.

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