Purpose: To compare the outcomes achieved with eminectomy, discectomy alone, and discectomy with an abdominal dermis fat graft (D þ ADFG) in the treatment of internal derangements (IDs) of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and to briefly discuss the failed cases in which a second operation was needed.
Patients and methods: This was a retrospective study of 31 patients (27 females, 4 males) who were unresponsive to conservative therapy and therefore underwent eminectomy (group A, n ¼ 6), discectomy alone (group B, n ¼ 8), or D þ ADFG (group C, n ¼ 17). All of the IDs of the TMJ were unilateral. Functional mandibular pain intensity on a visual analog scale (VAS) and maximum interincisal opening (MIO) were recorded preoperatively and at the latest postoperative examination (average, 30 months). The preoperative
and postoperative results were compared between and within each group.
Results: Overall, patients in groups B and C had better outcomes than those in group A in terms of TMJ symptom relief. Postoperative increases in MIO were statistically significant in groups A, B, and C (P < 0.027, P < 0.017, and P < 0.000, respectively). Patients with discectomized joints (groups B and C) had significantly improved pain scores (P < 0.05) at the latest follow-up. In 6 of the 31 (19.3%) patients (3 eminectomy, 1 discectomy, and 2 D þ ADFG), the procedure was deemed unsuccessful because of persistent symptoms and a second operation was performed.
Conclusions: Discectomy with or without ADFG was clearly superior to eminectomy in reducing pain and improving joint function. But there were no significant differences in the two-discectomy groups with respect to symptom improvement.