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J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 2007 Apr;35(3):151-60. Epub 2007 Jun 21.

Surgical treatment of fractures of the mandibular condyle: a comparison of long-term results following different approaches - functional, axiographical, and radiological findings.

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  • 1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Technical University Dresden, Germany.



While functionally stable osteosynthesis is a generally accepted method to treat all dislocated fractures of the skull, open reduction and rigid fixation of fractures of the mandibular condyle are still controversial. The risks involved in the surgical approaches and the difficulties during reposition are the main controversies. Improvements made in surgical access and osteosynthesis materials as well as the development of special instruments were the reasons for re-evaluating the surgical results.


Forty patients with displaced or dislocated fractures of the mandibular condyle were re-examined. In 20 patients (21 fractures) an intraoral approach, in 20 more patients (24 fractures) an extraoral perimandibular approach was applied. The results were compared by means of axiography and radiology as well as clinically with regard to function 6 months postoperatively.


While almost all fractures were correctly reduced following application of an extraoral access, reduction was correct in only 50% of the patients treated with an intraoral approach. Re-displacement and complications during osteosynthesis were the reasons. The group of patients treated via the intraoral approach showed less favourable results radiologically, clinically, and as judged by the patients' subjective feelings. Especially axiographical examination of the latter fractures revealed a restricted translation indicating that the fractures had not healed primarily.


In order to avoid complications, the only fractures which should be treated intraorally are those which allow exact reduction even under the conditions of a limited view and reduced possibilities of surgical manipulation during reduction. This applies in general to fractures of the mandibular condyle with a laterally displaced condyle and a shortened ascending ramus. For all other dislocated or displaced fractures, extraoral reduction and osteosynthesis are the methods of choice.

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