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Arthroscopy for Temporomandibular Disorders


Table of Contents


Arthroscopy for Temporomandibular Disorders

Surgery Overview

For arthroscopic jaw surgery, the surgeon inserts a pencil-thin, lighted tube (arthroscope) into the jaw joint through a small incision in the skin. The arthroscope is connected to a small camera outside the body that transmits a close-up image of the joint to a TV monitor.

The surgeon can insert surgical instruments through the arthroscope to do surgery on the joint, preventing the need for more surgical incisions. This technique is used to diagnose and treat temporomandibular disorders (TMD).

During arthroscopic surgery, the surgeon may:

Procedures are done under general anesthesia and usually take 30 minutes or longer depending upon the type of procedure.

What To Expect After Surgery

After surgery, you may start physical therapy within 48 hours in order to maintain movement and prevent scar tissue from forming. You may also use a mechanical device that gently moves your jaw joint (continuous passive motion).

Your jaw movement may be limited for at least a month. And you may need to follow a diet of liquid and soft foods.

Why It Is Done

Arthroscopy can also be used to flush out the joint (lavage) or to inject an anti-inflammatory medicine. This can be especially helpful to people who have TMDs caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthroscopy can be used to treat TMDs involving:

This procedure may also be used to diagnose a TMD (diagnostic arthroscopy).

Arthroscopy is not done when there is:

How Well It Works

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that can effectively treat TMDs. An arthroscopic surgery can effectively treat a TMD with fewer and less severe complications compared with an open-joint surgery.1

Risks

Complications of arthroscopic temporomandibular surgery are uncommon but include:

Any surgical changes to the bone and soft tissue are irreversible and can create new problems in the joint's delicate balance. Scar tissue results from surgery that involves muscles, tendons, and ligaments and is likely to restrict jaw movement to some extent.

What To Think About

When possible, a nonsurgical approach is preferred over surgery, because the treatment is cheaper, safer, noninvasive, and involves less risk of permanent damage.

Current practice trends are to avoid altering disc position or structure. After disc replacement, an adverse reaction to an artificial disc is possible.

If your doctor recommends surgery, experts agree that it is best to get a second opinion.

Decision Points focus on key medical care decisions that are important to many health problems. Temporomandibular Disorder: Should I Have Surgery for Jaw Pain?

Complete the surgery information form (PDF) to help you prepare for this surgery.

References

Citations

  1. Tucker MR, et al. (2008). Management of temporomandibular disorders. In JR Hupp et al., eds., Contemporary Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 5th ed., pp. 629–649. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

Credits for Arthroscopy for Temporomandibular Disorders

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Arden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry
Last Revised January 11, 2012

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