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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Arthroscopy for Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs)
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For arthroscopic jaw surgery, the surgeon inserts a pencil-thin, lighted tube (arthroscope) into the jaw joint through a small incision in the skin. The arthroscope is connected to a small camera outside the body that transmits a close-up image of the joint to a TV screen.
The surgeon can insert surgical tools through the arthroscope to do surgery on the joint. This prevents the need for more incisions. This technique is used to diagnose and treat temporomandibular disorders (TMD).
During the surgery, the surgeon may:
Procedures are done under general anesthesia. They usually take 30 minutes or longer, depending upon the type of procedure.
After surgery, you may start physical therapy within 48 hours. This will help you to maintain movement and prevent scar tissue from forming. You may also use a mechanical device that gently moves your jaw joint (continuous passive motion).
Your jaw movement may be limited for at least a month. And you may need to follow a diet of liquid and soft foods.
Arthroscopy can also be used to flush out the joint (lavage) or to inject an anti-inflammatory medicine. This can be especially helpful to people who have TMDs caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthroscopy can be used to treat TMDs involving:
This procedure may also be used to diagnose a TMD (diagnostic arthroscopy).
Arthroscopy is not done when there is:
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that can effectively treat TMDs. Compared with an open-joint surgery, it can treat a TMD with fewer and less severe complications.footnote 1
Complications of arthroscopic TMD surgery are uncommon but include:
Any surgical changes to the bone and soft tissue can't be reversed. And they can create new problems in the joint's delicate balance. Scar tissue forms after surgery that involves muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It's likely to restrict jaw movement to some extent.
Tucker MR, et al. (2008). Management of temporomandibular disorders. In JR Hupp et al., eds., Contemporary Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 5th ed., pp. 629–649. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
Current as of:
October 27, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: October 27, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
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