Fibrosarcoma misdiagnosed as a temporomandibular disorder: A cautionary tale

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Because of the abundance of articles on temporomandibular disorders in the dental literature, other sources of facial pain and mandibular dysfunction do not receive adequate diagnostic attention. The case report in this article describes a female patient who appeared for treatment with symptoms and signs similar to those encountered in subsets of temporomandibular disorders. Her condition was misdiagnosed, and she was treated for a temporomandibular disorder over an extended period before the correct diagnosis of high-grade pharyngeal fibrosarcoma was established. Once diagnosed, the tumor was treated aggressively with preoperative and postoperative combinations of chemotherapy and radiation. Despite the intensive therapy, the patient died. This case should remind the clinician that nonmusculoskeletal sources of persistent facial pain and dysfunction, including tumors, may be masked by or mimic temporomandibular disorders. If therapy does not produce the expected outcome, the diagnosis should be reexamined.

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