Evaluation of trabecular structure changes in osteoarthritis of the temporomandibular joint with cone beam computed tomography imaging

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To explore the possibility of using 2-dimensional image assessments in combination with cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) in patients with temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis (TMJOA) to enhance the clinical significance and applicability of the CBCT findings on TMJOA changes.

Study Design.

Fifty-two patients with unilateral TMJOA and 40 healthy adults who had undergone CBCT in preparation for orthodontic treatment were selected for this study. Temporomandibular joint images were acquired with CBCT. All images were classified into 4 phases (slight erosion, widespread erosion, appearance of bone maintenance, and partial loss of condylar head with a remodeled cortical surface) and 4 levels of severity (absent, slight, moderate, and extensive). Quantitative microstructural analysis, including bone value fraction (BV/TV), trabecular number (Tb.N), trabecular thickness, and trabecular separation (Tb.Sp) of each image, was performed by using a customized software.


In patients with unilateral TMJOA, the affected side had significantly higher BV/TV and Tb.N and significantly lower Tb.Sp compared with the unaffected side. Compared with healthy individuals, the affected joints in patients with TMJOA had significantly higher BV/TV and trabecular thickness and significantly lower Tb.N and Tb.Sp. No significant difference was found among different phase groups or different severity levels.


CBCT combined with a software investigation protocol for microstructure measurement can be used to provide reliable trabecular parameters in assessing TMJOA.

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