Arterial Vascularization of the Mandibular Condyle and Fractures of the Condyle

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Abstract

Background:

Despite substantial displacements, fractures of the mandibular condyle rarely lead to necrosis. This illustrates the negligible role of the inferior alveolar artery in intraosseous supply to the condyle, and led to this systematization of its arterial vascularization.

Methods:

Forty-two temporomandibular joints from nonembalmed cadaveric specimens were studied following injection of latex (n = 32) or India ink (n = 10).

Results:

The intraosseous branches of the inferior alveolar artery that lead to the condyle were inconstant and often rudimentary. In this study, the arteries that consistently led to the condyle were the superficial temporal artery, the deep posterior temporal artery, and arterial branches leading to the lateral pterygoid muscle emanating directly from the maxillary artery. These arteries, along with the transverse facial artery and the masseteric artery (when they participated in condoyle vascularization), formed a quadrangle around the mandibular condyle. After India ink injection, the pterygoid muscle was the most strongly colored muscle, thus indicating substantial vascularization.

Conclusions:

Although there is a lack of consensus in the literature regarding the constancy and proportions of the arteries participating in vascularization of the condyle, the superficial temporal artery, the maxillary arterial branches leading to the lateral pterygoid muscle, and the deep posterior temporal artery were constant in this study. This study shows the important role of the lateral pterygoid in the vascularization of the condyle. In case of a fracture with substantial displacement, the vascularization emanating from the superficial temporal artery and the lower alveolar artery is ruptured or compromised.

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