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Treatment of Temporomandibular Joint Ankylosis in Children: Is it Necessary to Perform Mandibular Distraction Simultaneously?

López, Emmanuela Nadal MD; Dogliotti, Pedro Luis MD

Journal of Craniofacial Surgery: September 2004 - Volume 15 - Issue 5 - p 879-884
Brief Clinical Notes

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) ankylosis in children disturbs not only mandibular growth, but also facial skeletal development. Costochondral graft was used to ensure growth, but it had proven to be unpredictable. The authors evaluate retrospectively 41 patients who underwent temporomandibular joint reconstruction during the last 10 years. Twenty were treated by costochondral graft, 15 by arthroplasty, and 6 by other surgical procedures, and they were excluded. The etiology was septic in 54% of the cases. Follow-up was at least 12 months in all cases. Arthroplasty was a quicker and easier procedure than the costochondral graft, reducing operating time, risk of blood transfusion, and hospital stays and costs. It also was associated with less risk of reankylosis, 13%vs 25%. Furthermore, it was associated with a minor morbidity and secondary complications. Seventy-five percent of the patients treated with bone graft required additional secondary surgery. Radiographically, the authors observed a remodeled neocondyle at the level of proximal mandibular end in cases treated by arthroplasty.

On clinical examination, patients showed variable degrees of facial deformity and an unknown potential of mandibular growth after TMJ arthroplasty. The authors also observed improved clinical and radiologic appearance after ankylosis correction. Is it reasonable to perform ankylosis release and mandibular distraction simultaneously without knowing which patients will be able to experience growth with time? In that case it would be necessary a predict growth to apply the exact amount of mandibular distraction for obtaining stable results. Timing of mandibular distraction, after TMJ arthroplasty is performed and mandibular function restored, must be specific to each patient’s needs, assuring the best distraction conditions and planning. The authors present their treatment protocol, including TMJ joint arthroplasty with temporal muscle interposition, and mandibular distraction osteogenesis, as a second procedure, to correct residual asymmetry or retrognathism if necessary.

From the Department of Plastic Surgery and Burn Unit, Hospital de Pediatría SAMIC Prof. Dr. Juan P. Garrahan, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Address correspondence to Dra. E. Nadal Lopez, Fray Justo Santa Mª de Oro 2976, 5B 1425 Buenos Aires, Argentina; e-mail:

© 2004 Mutaz B. Habal, MD