Evaluation of the position, mobility, and morphology of the disc by MRI before and after four different treatments for temporomandibular joint disorders

T Ohnuki, M Fukuda, A Nakata, H Nagai, T Takahashi, T Sasano, Y Miyamoto
Dento Maxillo Facial Radiology 2006, 35 (2): 103-9

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to evaluate changes in disc position, mobility, and morphology in patients with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) in response to four different treatments, splint therapy, pumping manipulation, arthrocentesis, and arthroscopic surgery, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

METHODS: Eighty-five joints (85 patients) with unilateral internal derangement or osteoarthritis that were successfully treated were included in this study. The patients were divided into four groups as follows: splint therapy group, pumping manipulation group, arthrocentesis group, and arthroscopic surgery group. Changes in the disc position, mobility, and morphology before and after treatment were compared among the four groups using MRI.

RESULTS: All discs showed anterior disc displacement (ADD) without reduction before treatment. Only 10% of the joints became ADD with reduction after treatment, and the other joints remained ADD without reduction in spite of treatment. Discs treated by arthroscopic surgery were located more anteriorly compared with pre-treatment. In pre-treatment MRI, the rate of stuck disc increased as the stage of the treatment advanced. In post-treatment MRI, all temporomandibular joints (TMJs) had mobile discs. The disc deformity advanced after arthrocentesis and arthroscopic surgery.

CONCLUSIONS: Even though clinical signs and symptoms were alleviated by treatment, most discs remained ADD without reduction on MRI in spite of treatment. This suggests that the four treatments do not necessarily improve the position and deformity of the disc, and that arthroscopic surgery advances the deformity and anterior displacement of the disc. Disc mobility is important for improving clinical signs and symptoms.

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