Severe Proliferative Congenital Temporomandibular Joint Ankylosis: A Proposed Treatment Protocol Utilizing Distraction Osteogenesis

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The classical treatment for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) ankylosis in children: 1) joint release; 2) arthroplasty; 3) reconstruction; and 4) postoperative physical therapy (PT), is often unsuccessful. Postoperative physical therapy is difficult in the young patient due to poor cooperation. Moreover, there is a subgroup of patients who have a refractory congenital proliferative bony process that is the cause of their disease. In these patients, a role for distraction osteogenesis (DO) has been defined. We present a series of young patients with congenital proliferative TMJ ankylosis. Some have failed classic treatment. In such cases, DO is used to expand the mandibular size and soft tissue matrix. This creates a static open bite, facilitates mid-facial growth, and avoids compromise of the airway, speech, nutrition, and oral hygiene. To maintain these objectives, mandibular DO may be repeated as the child matures. Once skeletal maturity is reached, DO is used to normalize occlusion and further expand the soft tissue envelope prior to definitive reconstruction and aggressive post-op PT. In seven patients, this protocol has been used. Five patients are currently in the active phase of growth and undergoing interim treatment with mandibular DO. Two patients have reached skeletal maturity and have completed the protocol of DO with definitive arthroplasty and reconstruction. DO is a valuable aid in the treatment of the problematic child with congenital proliferative TMJ ankylosis. Interim DO, prior to definitive arthroplasty and reconstruction, can provide a static open bite that prevents progressive deformity and its associated functional disturbances.

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