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Treatment of mandibular condylar process fractures: biological considerations.

The topic of condylar injury in adults has generated more discussion and controversy than any other in the field of maxillofacial trauma. It is an important subject because such injuries are common and complications of trauma to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) are far-reaching in their effects. Why are there so many different methods to treat this injury? How can seemingly disparate treatment options all produce satisfactory outcomes in the majority of patients? The reason lies with the biological adaptations that occur within the masticatory system that are poorly understood, not readily quantifiable, and variable from one person to the next. This discussion presents our current understanding of the adaptations that must occur to provide the patient with a satisfactory outcome. The adaptations for patients treated open are different than for those treated closed. However, it is when these adaptations fail to occur that unsatisfactory outcomes occur, regardless of how they were treated.

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