Benign Temporomandibular Joint Lesions Presenting as Masses in the External Auditory Canal

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Abstract

Objective:

Describe benign lesions arising from the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) that presented as masses in the external auditory canal (EAC).

Study Design:

Retrospective case series of two academic medical centers.

Patients:

Six patients with lesions emanating from the TMJ that presented as EAC masses. Lesions included pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS), nodular fasciitis, foramen of Huschke herniation with salivary fistula, fibroepithelial polyp, superficial angiomyxoma, and giant cell tumor (GCT).

Intervention:

Surgical resection.

Main Outcome Measures:

Tumor control, TMJ function, and hearing.

Results:

All patients presented with hearing loss, TMJ pain, and otalgia. Three patients with EAC occluding masses developed entrapment cholesteatoma between the mass and tympanic membrane. Following surgical resection, four patients were free of disease. The patient with PVNS has a stable remnant at 3 years follow up and the patient with giant cell tumor is under active surveillance. Hearing improved in three patients, remained stable in one patient, and worsened in two patients. All had resolution of their TMJ and ear pain.

Conclusions:

EAC masses of uncertain origin should be imaged preoperatively to exclude lesions best not biopsied (e.g., encephalocele, facial nerve schwannoma, paraganglioma). In the differential of EAC masses, lesions emanating from the TMJ need to be considered, especially for those based anteriorly. Understanding the extent of TMJ involvement is crucial for surgical planning which optimizes outcome. Goals for therapy are to control the underlying disease process, restore patency of the EAC, improve hearing, and preserve function of TMJ.

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