Indirect measurement of the temporomandibular joint disc elasticity with magnetic resonance imaging

Dentomaxillofac Radiol. 2011 Oct;40(7):422-8. doi: 10.1259/dmfr/98030980.


Objectives: The radiological evaluation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) consists of demonstrating the morphological features of the disc and the condyle in closed and open mouth positions using MRI. We aimed to determine elasticity of the disc by measuring the amount of elongation during mouth opening.

Methods: The study population included 49 patients. Coronal T(1) and multiplane oblique T(2) weighted gradient recalled echo sequences were acquired in open and closed mouth positions. Biconcave TMJ disc lengths were measured on sagittal oblique images in both positions. Elongation ratio (ER) was calculated for each patient. According to the findings, TMJs are classified into subgroups: normal (N), dislocated with reduction (DWR), pure DWR (p-DWR), DWR with additional findings (DWR-a) and dislocated without reduction (DWOR). Statistical analysis was performed using the χ(2) test and receiver operating characteristic analysis.

Results: Out of 98 discs, 22 of them were evaluated as N, 60 as DWR (28 p-DWR, 32 DWR-a) and 16 as DWOR. There was no significant difference among the disc lengths in three subgroups at the closed mouth position (P = 0.15), whereas there was significant difference in the open mouth position (P = 0.0001). There was significant difference among subgroups as far as ER is concerned (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: ER is a strong indicator of elasticity. Compared with the N group, elasticity of the disc was not significantly different in the p-DWR group but the disc elasticity was very degraded in DWR-a and in DWOR. A negative conversion or one smaller than 1.4 mm means a compromised disc, although sometimes it will possess normal anatomical configurations or signal characteristics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Elasticity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Dislocations / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disc / pathology*