What is temporomandibular joint arthroscopy (TMJ arthroscopy)?

Of the total number of patients who come to the office for a temporomandibular disorder, approximately 80% of them will be able to solve their problem with conservative or non-invasive or first-line treatment alone. The remaining 20% will have to undergo arthroscopy, which is only applied after the failure of the aforementioned treatment.

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical technique that very few centers currently use. However, Dr. Lopez Vaquero continues to offer this treatment being the only one to do so in the Basque Country after receiving extensive training from the best arthroscopists nationally and internationally.

What is temporomandibular joint arthroscopy for?

Minimally invasive surgery is all that through a camera and the help of instruments allows to observe the cavity to be treated (abdominal cavity, various joints, sinuses, etc.), without the need for open surgery. This minimizes the risks and sequelae involved in the process.

With arthroscopy it is possible to make a direct diagnosis and apply different therapeutic procedures, achieving a significant reduction in pain and existing functional alterations.

Is arthroscopy sufficient?

According to the evidence in the literature, a first arthroscopy is capable of resolving the patient’s situation 80-85% of the time. Everything will depend on the state of deterioration of the joint prior to the intervention and the length of time the patient has been with it. The arthroscopy can be repeated whenever necessary.

How can I know if arthroscopy is beneficial for me?

Regardless of whether the procedure is beneficial or not, the most important thing is to know if it is right for us. Arthroscopy is indicated when non-invasive treatment fails.

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On the other hand, one of the advantages over other procedures is that it does not leave scars, since the camera and instruments are introduced through two cannulas of no more than 2.2 mm in diameter.

When can I return to normal life?

Arthroscopy is a procedure that is performed under general anesthesia and does not usually last more than 45 minutes. So a few hours later, when the patient wakes up, he/she will be able to return home without the need for hospitalization.

Between 5 and 7 days later, the discomfort of the intervention itself will have disappeared and, after this period, it is recommended that the patient perform exercises accompanied by a physiotherapist to regain the functionality that may have been lost.

Two weeks later the patient will be fully recovered and will be able to return to normal life.