TMJ is the acronym for temporomandibular joint. This joint is located near the ear where the lower jaw meets the skull. It has a very complicated structure which is similar to a ball and socket. This joint enables various jaw movements like chewing, swallowing, talking and even opening and closing of the mouth.
When there is some temporomandibular joint disorder, then it will restrict the jaw movements and will give rise to a painful condition like jaw pain, ear pain, headache, etc. In some severe cases, even opening and closing of the mouth becomes difficult. The surgery is performed on a patient when other treatment options like braces, medicines and bite therapy fail to give the desired results.
TMJ Surgery Procedure
There are several different procedures that are used in this surgery. Each of them has varying degree of incisiveness. Each of the procedures has been explained below.
Disk Repositioning Surgery
This is done to correct a TMJ disorder where the protective cartilage disc has slipped out of its original position. Here the surgeon makes an incision in the jaw and repositions the displaced disc into the proper place and secures it with stitches. If required, the adjoining muscles and ligaments are repaired too. The surgery is conducted under general anesthesia and the time required for the surgery is around two hours. Normally, the patient has to stay in the hospital overnight and for the next few days swelling and pain can be felt at the site of the operation.
This is performed when the cartilage disc is badly damaged and is unable to cushion the temporomandibular joint. This involves removal of the disc material and letting the tissue grow naturally and fill up the joint space. Thus, the scar tissue will reduce the friction between two joint bones rubbing against each other. Like disk repositioning surgery, discectomy is carried out under general anesthesia and approximately needs two or more hours. A short hospital stay is required. The recovery time may vary from a few weeks to a few months.
Articular Eminence Recontouring
This surgical procedure is performed on articular eminence or the socket portion of the joint. The socket is, sometimes, too deep which in turn puts a lot of pressure on the ball of the joint and gives rise to pain and swelling. For this reason, the surgeon would shorten the articular eminence and smoothen it up with special tools to ease off the pressure from the ball. This is mostly performed to correct serious cases of trauma to the joint. Sometimes, it is a part of the TMJ replacement surgery.
TMJ Replacement Surgery
When the joint is so badly damaged, that it is beyond repair, then it has to be removed surgically and replaced with a new one. The replacement could be total or partial, depending on the condition of the joint. During the surgery, the damaged portion of the joint is removed first and then replaced with the harvest bone from the ribs or any other parts of the body.
In some cases, it is replaced with metal prosthetic. This is a major surgery involving a lot of risks and is availed as a last resort when all the other treatment options have failed. The recovery time for this surgery is much longer. The use of jaw may start after a month of the surgery but the patient needs more time to get accustomed with the newly replaced part.
Basically, the surgery's cost depends on various factors like the condition of the patient, the procedure used and the practitioner. For a minimally invasive procedure the cost will be much less as compared to a complicated surgical procedure.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.