Matrix-associated chondrocyte transplantation for reconstruction of articulating surfaces in the temporomandibular joint: a pilot study covering medium- and long-term outcomes of 6 patients

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Abstract

Objective.

Matrix-associated chondrocyte transplantation is routinely used in joints of the extremities but not in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

Study Design.

We report the first case series in 7 patients of a tissue engineering approach to regenerate severely degraded articulating surfaces in the TMJ by simultaneously completely resurfacing both the mandibular condyle and the articular eminence/glenoid fossa with a commercially available collagen sponge seeded with autologous cells stabilized within a fibrin matrix. To facilitate healing, we temporarily employed a silicone membrane to protect the engineered tissues. The indications for surgery were posttraumatic fibro-osseous ankylosis, ankylosing osteoarthritis, or late-stage osteoarthritis.

Results.

Six of the patients were recalled for follow-up after 3 years 6 months to 12 years 1 month. The maximum incisal opening was 18.2 ± 9.2 mm (range, 9–33 mm) before and 31.2 ± 13.6 mm (range, 12–47 mm) at the latest follow-up. Histologic specimens taken at 4 months showed beginning differentiation of fibrocytes into chondrocytes, whereas at 3 and 11 years, mature hyaline cartilage—not typical for the TMJ—was present.

Conclusions.

We conclude that the reconstruction of TMJ surfaces by matrix-associated chondrocyte transplantation may become a routine method for cartilage regeneration in the TMJ in the future.

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