Outcomes of open temporomandibular joint surgery following failure to improve after arthroscopy: is there an algorithm for success?

Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2013 Dec;51(8):818-21. doi: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2013.04.013. Epub 2013 May 20.


We reviewed the results of one surgeon's experience of open surgical management of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) in patients who fail to respond to arthroscopy and aimed to identify groups of patients that may or may not benefit from the intervention. Over a 7-year period (2005-2012) we retrospectively collected data from the medical notes of patients who underwent discectomy, disc plication, eminectomy, eminoplasty, and adhesiolysis, according to the clinical findings for joint pain, restriction, and locking. A total of 22 patients (71%) reported improvement in pain score and 19 (61%) reported an improvement in mouth opening 12 months postoperatively. Overall, 12 patients (39%) ultimately needed TMJ replacement. This group included 5/6 patients in Wilkes' stage IV and 6/15 in stage V, 5/7 patients with a preoperative pain score of 90-100, and half of those with preoperative mouth opening of 20-29 mm (7/14). Open surgical management of the TMJ can benefit patients despite the previous failure of arthroscopy to manage pain, restriction, and locking. Arthroscopy seems to reduce the percentage of patients that need open TMJ surgery, but also the success of subsequent operations compared with previous studies. TMJ replacement is increasingly being done successfully to treat end-stage disease. These results may be used when obtaining a patient's consent for open TMJ surgery, particularly if they are in the groups considered to have a high risk of subsequently requiring a replacement joint.

Keywords: Open TMJ surgery; TMJ arthroscopy; TMJ replacement.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Arthralgia / surgery
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement
  • Arthroscopy / methods*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Joint Dislocations / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Temporal Bone / surgery
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disc / surgery
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / classification
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / surgery*
  • Tissue Adhesions / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult