Unsuccessful temporomandibular joint arthroscopy: is a second arthroscopy an acceptable alternative?

Maria Mancha de la Plata, Mario Muñoz-Guerra, Veronica Escorial Hernandez, Pedro Martos Diaz, Jose Luis Gil-Diez Usandizaga, Francisco J Rodriguez-Campo
Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 2008, 66 (10): 2086-92

PURPOSE: Arthroscopic surgery has been shown to be an effective treatment for patients with temporomandibular disorders, relieving patients' symptoms and restoring adequate mandibular function. For those patients with poor arthroscopic outcomes, various treatment modalities are possible, such as nonsurgical therapy, open surgery, or repeat arthroscopic surgery. The purpose of this study was to evaluate our results with rearthroscopy in patients with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: The clinical data and operative reports for 50 patients who underwent a second arthroscopic procedure from 1994 to 2004 were reviewed retrospectively. Outcome assessments were based on reductions in pain, measured using a visual analog scale, and improvements in maximal interincisal opening. The minimum follow-up period was 2 years.

RESULTS: Significant differences were evident between presurgical and postsurgical pain at months 1, 6, 12, and 24. The mean score of preoperative pain on the visual analogue scale was 61.65 mm, which was reduced to 36.28 mm at 2-year follow-up. With regard to mandibular function, all patients presented with restricted mouth opening, with a mean preoperative maximal interincisal opening of 26.73 mm. Postoperatively, the maximal interincisal opening showed a statistically significant improvement (P < .05), and at 2-year follow-up, we obtained a total improvement of 7 mm. Only 8 patients (16%), who had an unsuccessful result after a second arthroscopy, underwent further surgical intervention (open surgery).

CONCLUSION: Arthroscopic surgery is a reliable and effective procedure for temporomandibular joint dysfunction that improves pain and mouth opening, with the advantages of being minimally invasive and repeatable. Repeat arthroscopic surgery, with a proven history of fewer complications, can be attempted before open arthrotomy.

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