To investigate the clinical significance of magnetic resonance (MR) evidence of joint effusion of the temporomandibular joint after mandibular condylar fractures, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed on 18 joints in 15 patients with either unilateral or bilateral mandibular condylar fractures using a 1.5 Tesla MRI scanner (Signa, General Electric, Milwaukee, WI). MR evidence of joint effusion was evaluated and compared with the types and the positions of the fractures. MR evidence of joint effusion was observed in 11 of 18 TMJs, which was 61% of the condylar fractures. It appeared more frequently after fractures with dislocation than those without dislocation (p<0.05). In addition, MR evidence of effusion appeared more frequently in TMJs after high condylar fractures (head to upper neck) than low condylar fractures (lower neck to subcondylar) (p<0.05). These findings indicate that MR evidence of joint effusion may serve as a marker for the detection of severe intra-articular damage to the TMJ after mandibular condyle fractures.
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