Diffusion tensor imaging reveals morphological alterations of the lateral pterygoid muscle in patients with mandibular asymmetry

Dentomaxillofac Radiol. 2018 Jan;47(1):20170129. doi: 10.1259/dmfr.20170129. Epub 2017 Oct 27.


Objectives: To evaluate non-invasively the morphological features of both lateral pterygoid muscle (LPM) and masseter muscle by using diffusion tensor Imaging on two patients affected by mandibular asymmetry.

Methods: Two female patients with mandibular excess and asymmetry who underwent Le Fort I osteotomy and bilateral sagittal split osteotomy were recruited for this study. Morphological (T1 weighted) and diffusion weighted images were acquired with a 3T scanner 1 week before (T0) and 1 month after the surgery (T1). Probabilistic tensor-based tractography reconstruction of bilateral masseters and LPMs was performed and mean fractional anisotropy (FA) values for both muscles were extracted.

Results: Diffusion tensor imaging was able to identify the muscle geometrical morphology and diffusion microstructural changes. Both at T0 and T1, mean FA values had no significant differences between the right and left side of masseter (at T0: p = 0.91; at T1: p = 0.54) and LPM (at T0: p = 0.92; at T1: p = 0.43), respectively. Both patients reported a significant improvement in FA mean values of the left LPM (p = 0.03) between T0 and T1, whereas no diffusion parameters' changes were observed for the bilateral masseter muscles and right LPM.

Conclusions: We found that after the surgery the LPM ipsilateral to the deviation side showed a significant increase of FA compared to the baseline. Although preliminary, our findings suggest that diffusion tensor imaging may represent a promising tool to investigate non-invasively the masticatory muscles in temporomandibular joint disorders.

Keywords: DTI; lateral pterygoid muscle; mandibular asymmetry.

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging / methods*
  • Facial Asymmetry / diagnostic imaging*
  • Facial Asymmetry / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Malocclusion, Angle Class III / diagnostic imaging*
  • Malocclusion, Angle Class III / surgery*
  • Mandible / diagnostic imaging*
  • Mandible / surgery*
  • Masseter Muscle / diagnostic imaging
  • Masseter Muscle / surgery
  • Osteotomy, Le Fort
  • Osteotomy, Sagittal Split Ramus
  • Pterygoid Muscles / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pterygoid Muscles / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult