Bony deviations revealed by cone beam computed tomography of the temporomandibular joint in subjects without ongoing pain

J Oral Facial Pain Headache. 2014 Fall;28(4):331-7. doi: 10.11607/ofph.1255.


Aims: To assess the prevalence of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) bony changes in cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) images of adult subjects without ongoing orofacial pain or complaints from the TMJ.

Methods: The study included 84 TMJs from 28 men and 14 women (mean age [± SD]: 51 ± 11 years) without orofacial pain or TMJ complaints who were participants in a study of patients with obstructive sleep apnea. They were examined before any treatment with the Research Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandibular Disorders and with CBCT (NewTom VGi; 15 × 15 cm, exposure time 18 seconds, axial thickness 0.3 mm). Osseous TMJ deviations were assessed blindly and classified.

Results: Degenerative changes were noted in the CBCT images of 33 (39.3%) of the TMJs, of which 21 were classified as osteoarthritic alterations and 12 as indeterminate changes of osteoarthritis. Two TMJs were clinically classified as osteoarthrosis and 6 as disc displacement with reduction. The CBCT images of the 2 TMJs with a clinical diagnosis of osteoarthrosis showed also bony changes, but the CBCT images also revealed osteoarthritic bony changes in the 18 TMJs without any clinical diagnosis.

Conclusion: CBCT images of asymptomatic adult TMJs commonly show degenerative bony alterations. Accordingly, such radiographic findings should be used with care and only as a supplement to clinical assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asymptomatic Diseases
  • Cartilage, Articular / diagnostic imaging
  • Cone-Beam Computed Tomography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Dislocations / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Mandibular Condyle / diagnostic imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteophyte / diagnostic imaging
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporomandibular Joint / diagnostic imaging*
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disc / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / diagnosis
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorders / diagnostic imaging*