A possible etiology of the internal derangement of the temporomandibular joint based on the MRI observations of the lateral pterygoid muscle

Surg Radiol Anat. 2005 Mar;27(1):19-24. doi: 10.1007/s00276-004-0267-6. Epub 2004 Nov 26.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) internal derangement and lateral pterygoid muscle (LPM) by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In this study, 115 subjects with TMJ internal derangement (total 230 TMJs) and 21 subjects without clinical symptoms (total 42 TMJs) were included. TMJ disc position and LPM were evaluated using MRI. LPM attachments were categorized into two different types: type 1, where fibers of the superior head of the LPM (SLPM) were attached to the disc and fibers of the inferior head of the LPM (ILPM) were attached to condyle, and type 2, where fibers of the SLPM were attached to the disc and condyle, and fibers of the ILPM were attached to condyle. The presence of muscle atrophy and degeneration were also evaluated. LPM attachments were observed in two different parts. Disc displacements were common in the muscle attachments of both types. Type 1 muscle attachments were seen in 85.9% of all the anterior disc displacement without reduction (ADD) TMJs (total 64 TMJs). Atrophy was seen in a higher proportion (43.7%) in TMJs with ADD (28/64) than in TMJs with normal and anterior disc displacement with reduction (ADDR). Out of 74 TMJs with atrophy, 68 had type 1 muscle attachment. Four TMJs had atrophy in both superior and inferior heads of the lateral pterygoid. However, atrophy was not present only in the ILPM. It has been concluded that since the SLPM only attached to the disc in type 1, the disc may displace anteriorly very easily. Therefore, this situation will reduce the function of the SLPM. Reduced muscle function may cause muscle atrophy. The activity of the SLPM may be more reduced since the disc permanently dislocated in TMJs with ADD. Finally, spasm of the LPM causes disc displacement and atrophy and then the degeneration of the LPM may follow disc displacement.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Dislocations / etiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscular Atrophy / etiology
  • Muscular Atrophy / pathology
  • Pterygoid Muscles / anatomy & histology*
  • Pterygoid Muscles / pathology
  • Temporomandibular Joint / pathology*
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disc / pathology
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / etiology
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / pathology*