An arthroscopy will allow your surgeon to view inside your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) by inserting a camera through a small cut in the skin. This is also known more commonly as keyhole surgery.
The surgeon will be able to diagnose problems that include torn cartilage and damage to the surface of a joint. It is also possible to treat some problems using surgical equipment or by washing out the joint, with no need to increase the size of the cut. Patients with problems with their jaws, commonly sufferers of temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) caused as a result of rheumatoid arthritis, may undergo the procedure. Some of the benefits include:
The surgeon will make a small cut in the front of the ear on the patient, placed under general anaesthetic, and insert a camera to examine the joint for any sign of damage to the cartilage, surfaces and ligaments.
One or two needles may be placed through the cut to wash out any loose material caused by wear of the joint surfaces. Alternatively, another cut may be made to insert surgical instruments to treat any scarring – this will also be performed to change the position of the intra-articular disc or improve the joint surfaces.
After the surgery, which can take 20 minutes per joint, the cuts will be closed with stitches. A local anaesthetic may also be applied to help with the pain.
You will need a few days off from work to allow the wounds to heal, and maintain a soft diet for a few weeks after surgery. Within two or three days after surgery, you will begin therapy to get the jaw moving and prevent the formation of scar tissue.
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