Jaw TMJ Arthroplasty

Indications: Dislocated/damaged discs, bony aberrations and ankylosis, severe adhesions

Description: TMJ arthroplasty is an open joint surgery performed in patients who have intolerable and/or intractable TMJ pain.  Most patients have failed non-surgical treatment and/or arthroscopic surgery. This is the surgery of choice for patients with bony intracapsular ankylosis. Open joint procedures include discoplasty (meniscoplasty, repair and/or relocation of the disc), discectomy (meniscectomy, removal of the disc with or without replacement), condylectomy, condylotomy, and total or partial joint replacement.

Arthroplasty is an open TMJ surgery involved making an incision over the joint area in front of the ear. The incision usually extends from inside the sideburn area, then in front of the top of the ear then extending into the ear itself.  The part that extends into the ear is placed there to hide incision from view.  This “skin flap” is then reflected forward to expose the underlying layers. 

The fascial layer is exposed and reflected, exposing the TMJ capsule.  The capsule is opened, revealing the disk (meniscus).  This is usually the structure causing your symptoms.  The disk is carefully examined, its position, thickness, smoothness, and flexibility is noted. The bony surfaces of the TMJ are examined:  special care is taken to identify rough surfaces, sharp edges, cavities or anatomical abnormalities.  If the disk is healthy enough it is repaired; repair involves pulling the disk into a more normal position and holding it there with stitches (sutures). 

If the disk is abnormally stretched out it is “tightened” by taking a wedge of tissue out behind the disk and suturing the edges together.  If the disk is damaged beyond repair it must be removed; if an excessively damaged disk is not removed it may continue to cause the same symptoms after surgery.  This final decision to repair or remove the disk is made after directly examining the disk at surgery. 

After the disk is repaired/removed the bony surfaces are examined; any excessively rough surfaces are smoothed out with surgical files. If the disc was removed the surgeon will decide whether to not replace the disc, to implant a temporary disc, or to replace it with a graft of tissue from the patient.

Post-procedure care: Thermal therapy, pain medication, aggressive physical therapy including motion therapy, close and frequent follow up,

(Please see our Post-surgical Rehabilation page for more information.)
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