Research Article| Volume 50, ISSUE 8, P745-748, December 2012

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Prospective outcome assessment of the therapeutic benefits of arthroscopy and arthrocentesis of the temporomandibular joint


      Patients who fail to respond to routine conservative measures to treat pain, restriction, and locking in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) may have therapeutic arthroscopy or arthrocentesis, both of which are associated with symptomatic improvement in 86% of patients. To our knowledge there are no current data on improvements in mouth opening and lateral deviations after these procedures. This prospective audit includes 244 patients treated between 2005 and 2010 from one surgeon's practice, who were followed up at least once at 6 weeks after arthroscopy or arthrocentesis. They had various conditions but all had tender joints. Measurements of interincisal opening, left and right lateral excursions, and protrusion were taken before and during operation with callipers (mm). Opening and pain scores were also recorded on 10 cm analogue scales before operation and at 6 weeks. Pain scores improved with intervention from a mean score of 37.1–16.1 (range 0–100). The improvement in mouth opening ranged from 0 to 78% (as some patients had locking or pain with normal opening before operation), and 86% had improved enough to be discharged at 6 weeks. Temporary forehead weakness in two patients resolved within the timescale of the study. The study shows improvements in mouth opening, and confirms that pain scores can be improved after arthroscopy or arthrocentesis when conservative approaches have failed. In the hands of a skilled practitioner, arthroscopy can be a useful diagnostic and therapeutic adjunct, which can be used repeatedly with low morbidity.


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