Intra-articular adhesions of the temporomandibular joint: Relation between arthroscopic findings and clinical symptoms

ShanYong Zhang, XiuMing Liu, Chi Yang, XieYi Cai, MinJie Chen, Majd S Haddad, Bai Yun, ZhuoZhi Chen
BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2009, 10: 70

BACKGROUND: Intra-articular adhesion (IA) is one of the important pathologic signs of intracapsular temporomandibular joint (TMJ) diseases, but this factor has been rarely described with respect to its arthroscopic characteristics and histology. The purpose of this study was to describe the incidence and distribution of IA in patients with internal derangement (ID) and to investigate the correlation between adhesions and the clinical symptoms of patients with ID of TMJ with closed-lock.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis was conducted of 1822 TMJs with ID that were refractory to nonsurgical treatments and underwent arthroscopic surgery between May 2001 and June 2008 in our department. Clinical findings were assessed on the basis of mandibular range of motion, patients' age and locking duration at the initial visit. ID stages were judged according to the Wilkes and Bronstein classification based on clinical symptoms and pre-operative magnetic resonance imaging. 1506 patients (1822 joints) with ID were divided into an adhesion group (486 patients) and a non-adhesion group (1020 patients). The associations between the two groups with respect to interincisal opening, clicking duration, locking duration and patients' age were statistically analyzed using a t-test.

RESULTS: Arthroscopy confirmed occurrences of adhesion in 28.76% of the joints (524 joints out of a total of 1822). Grade 1 adhesion was found in 68.89% of those cases; grade 2 in 20.61%; grade 3 in 4.58%; and grade 4 in 5.92%. The percentages of instances of adhesion in different stages were as follows: 13.89% of the joints in Stage II had adhesion, 25.47% in Stage III, 37.99% in Stage IV, and 40.37% in Stage V. There were statistically significant differences for patients' age (t = 10.41, P < 0.001), interincisal opening (t = 9.54, P < 0.001), paining duration (t = 3.66, P < 0.001) and locking duration (t = 3.89, P < 0.001) between the two groups, while no statistically significant difference was found for clicking duration (t = 1.08, P > 0.05).

CONCLUSION: The arthroscopic findings confirmed that the incidence ratio of adhesion was high and occurred predominantly with older patients with longer locking duration and less interincisal opening. As the stage of ID increased, the adhesion grade rose.

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