The role of muscle grafts in temporomandibular joint ankylosis: short-term experimental study in sheep.
ABSTRACT The temporalis muscle flap can be used as an inter-positional graft placed into a gap arthroplasty site in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) ankylosis. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of the muscle graft in sheep. Five pure-bred adult Merino sheep were used and ankylosis was induced in all right TMJs. At 3 months, the ankylosis was released by gap arthroplasty and reconstructed with a masseter muscle graft, because the temporalis muscle is short and poorly vasculized in sheep. The sheep were killed at 3 months after muscle grafting. The maximal mouth opening was recorded before and after operation and at death. The joints were examined radiologically and histologically. In 4 sheep mouth opening remained at the pre-operative level. A clear radiolucent space remained between the smooth temporal and ramus stumps. Histologically, the muscle graft remained vital but with some fibrous tissue formation between the bone ends. One sheep developed an infection at the operative site following the muscle graft; this partly resolved with antibiotics, but the TMJ developed a fibrous reankylosis that was demonstrated clinically, radiologically and histologically. These results indicate that an uncomplicated temporalis muscle graft reconstruction with gap arthroplasty is a successful and stable procedure in human TMJ ankylosis.