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J Med Radiat Sci. 2016 Jun;63(2):124-32. doi: 10.1002/jmrs.145. Epub 2015 Nov 20.

Radiation-induced temporo-mandibular joint disorder in post-radiotherapy nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients: assessment and treatment.

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Department of Health Technology and Informatics Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hung Hom, Kowloon Hong Kong.

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Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is endemic in southern China, and its incidence in Hong Kong is relatively high. Radiotherapy is the mainstay treatment for NPC due to its relatively high radiosensitivity and deep-seated anatomical position, which is not readily accessible by surgery. Although the technique of radiotherapy in NPC has been advancing and offers promising treatment outcome, complications around the irradiation areas are inevitable and the quality of life of the post-radiotherapy patients is often compromised. Trismus, which is defined as the restricted mouth opening or jaw movement due to the disorder of temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ), is one of the possible late complications for radiotherapy of NPC and is found in 5-17% of the post-radiotherapy (post-RT) patients. Trismus at early stage may only affect the speech, but in severe cases nutritional intake and oral hygiene condition may deteriorate seriously. This article reviewed the possible causes of radiation-induced TMJ damage, the various assessments including imaging modalities and possible treatments. The conclusion is that the availability of simple, yet effective examinations for trismus is essential for delaying the progression and restoring TMJ functions. Although there is no absolutely effective treatment for trismus, many supportive, restorative and palliative management are possible under different clinical situations.


Imaging modalities; nasopharyngeal carcinoma; radiation‐induced trismus; radiotherapy; temporo‐mandibular joint

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