Purpose: Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) arthroscopy has been reported to be an effective and reliable technique for the treatment of chronic closed lock (CCL) of the TMJ. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate whether the status of the joint surface and the synovial lining directly visualized with arthroscopy could determine postoperative results in patients with CCL of the TMJ.
Materials and methods: In all, 257 of 500 patients (344 joints) fulfilled the inclusion criteria for CCL of the TMJ. Of these patients, 172 with unilateral TMJ involvement were finally selected for the study. Synovitis and chondromalacia were chosen as the main features for evaluation of the joint surface and synovial lining. Two groups of patients were established: 1) patients with scarce affectation (synovitis grades I-II and chondromalacia grades I-II); and 2) patients with severe affectation (synovitis grades III-IV and/or chondromalacia grades III-IV). Pain and maximal interincisal opening were chosen as dependent variables. All patients were assessed at 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months postoperatively. The paired-samples Student's t test was used to compare mean values for pain (using a visual analog scale) and maximal interincisal opening (MIO) both pre- and postoperatively. The Student's t test for unpaired data was applied for the statistical analysis. A P value less than .05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: Synovitis grades I-II were arthroscopically observed in 87 (50.58%) patients, whereas synovitis grades III-IV were present in 72 (41.86%) patients. Chondromalacia grades I-II were arthroscopically observed in 66 (38.37%) patients, whereas chondromalacia grades III-IV were present in 54 (31.39%) patients. A statistically significant decrease in pain (P < .001) with a parallel increase in mouth opening (P < .001) after arthroscopy was observed for patients with synovitis I-II, synovitis III-IV, chondromalacia I-II, and chondromalacia III-IV during the whole follow-up period. A significant difference (P = .01) in relation to VAS score was observed between patients with synovitis I-II and patients with synovitis III-IV at month 6 postoperatively. However, this difference did not persist during the rest of the follow-up period, as was the case in relation to mouth opening. No significant differences were observed in relation to decrease of pain and increase of MIO between patients with chondromalacia I-II and patients with chondromalacia III-IV at any time during the follow-up period. Although mean values for pain were lower in patients with synovitis I-II plus chondromalacia I-II in comparison to patients with synovitis III-IV plus chondromalacia III-IV for the whole follow-up period, no statistical significant differences were observed. In relation to the increase in mouth opening, slightly higher values were observed for patients with synovitis I-II plus chondromalacia I-II, although no statistical differences were observed with regard to patients presenting with synovitis III-IV plus chondromalacia III-IV.
Conclusion: A significant decrease in pain with a parallel increase in MIO was achieved from month 1 postoperatively in patients with any grade of synovitis and/or chondromalacia. No statistical difference in pain or function was observed between patients with scarce involvement of the joint surface and the synovial lining and patients with severe involvement after arthroscopy.