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Septic arthritis of the temporomandibular joint: a systematic review


Introduction: This study aimed to describe the history, clinical presentation, laboratory examination, treatment, and long-term functional characteristics of patients with septic arthritis of the temporomandibular joint (SATMJ).

Methods: All articles in the English literature on SATMJ were queried using PubMed, Science Direct, and Google Scholar (2013 to 8 March 2023), and the keywords "temporomandibular OR TMJ AND septic arthritis". Articles are included if related to the SATMJ in patients of all ages, using case reports, case series, and cohort studies. The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale was applied to all included investigations. Article selection followed PRISMA’s guidelines for measuring the quality of systematic reviews.

Results: A preliminary literature search yielded 220 results, of which 25 matched the inclusion requirements, and one more came via reference checking. There were 25 cases with a mean age of 26.7 years (0.1 to 85). Symptoms mainly consisted of TMJ/preauricular pain (n=17, 42.5%), trismus (n=20, 50%), and facial/preauricular swelling (n=24, 60%). Most patients had no systemic symptoms (n=16, 40%). The average mouth opening measured 16.3 mm (5 to 36). The diagnosis was made using the following imaging techniques: X-ray (n=6, 15%), CT scan (n=33, 82.5%), MRI (n=16, 40%), and ultrasound (n=1, 2.5%). Staphylococcus aureus (n = 10, 25%) was the most frequently isolated. Approximately 40 patients (100%) received antibiotics, 26 (65%) patients underwent surgery (e.g., joint aspiration, arthroscopy, etc.), of which two patients (5%) required further surgical intervention. In general, long-term results were positive. In 10 of the 40 patients (25%) who had documented follow-up, sequelae occurred.

Conclusion: In the event of trismus, jaw pain, or preauricular edema, SATMJ should be considered. Quick examination and broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment are part of management. Although surgery is not always necessary, it can be life-saving in serious circumstances.


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How to Cite

Gera, L. P. M. Y., Permatasari, A. A. I. Y. ., & Asmarajaya, A. A. G. N. . (2023). Septic arthritis of the temporomandibular joint: a systematic review. Intisari Sains Medis, 14(2), 829–841.




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Luh Putu Mettary Yasoda Gera
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Anak Agung Istri Yulan Permatasari
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Anak Agung Gde Ngurah Asmarajaya
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