The aims of this longitudinal study were to perform a comprehensive clinical evaluation of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and to investigate the association between the clinical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in the TMJs of patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Seventy-five patients with JIA participated in this study. All patients underwent a rheumatological examination performed by a paediatric rheumatologist, a TMJ examination performed by a single dentist and an MRI with contrast of the TMJs. These examinations were scheduled on the same date. The patients were examined again 1 year later. Twenty-eight (37.3 %) patients reported symptoms at the first evaluation and 11 (14.7 %) patients at the second evaluation. In relation to signs, 35 (46.7 %) of the patients presented at least one sign at the first evaluation and 29 (38.7 %) at the second. Intense contrast enhancement of TMJ was significantly associated with disease activity (p < 0.001) at the first evaluation and a trend to significance was observed at the second (p = 0.056), with poly/systemic subtypes (p = 0.028 and p = 0.049, respectively), with restricted mouth opening capacity (p = 0.013 and p = 0.001, respectively), with the presence of erosions at both evaluations (p = 0.0001 and p < 0.0001, respectively) and with altered condylar shape at the second evaluation (p = 0.0005). TMJ involvement is highly prevalent in JIA patients, with asymptomatic children presenting severe structural alterations of the TMJ. The TMJ should always be evaluated in JIA patients, even in the absence of signs and symptoms.
Keywords: Disease activity; Juvenile idiopathic arthritis; Magnetic resonance imaging; Temporomandibular joint.