Clinical Predictability of Temporomandibular Joint Disc Displacement

M. G. Orsini, T. Kuboki, S. Terada, Y. Matsuka, H. Yatani, A. Yamashita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Single items from a typical clinical examination have proved disappointing in their predictive value for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disc displacement. Only one criterion (the 12 o'clock) is used to diagnose normal disc position. According to this criterion, the posterior band of the disc should be located at the top of the condyle, at the 12 o'clock position. The purpose of this study was to determine which signs and symptoms provide a valid prediction of the condition of the joint based on 4 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) criteria used to define normal disc position. Sagittal MRI and clinical findings of 137 temporomandibular disorder patients and 23 normal asymptomatic volunteers were used. Three calibrated and blinded observers interpreted the images. Disc position with the mouth closed was evaluated based on 4 MRI criteria: 12, 11, 10 o'clock, and the intermediate zone. Disc position with the mouth open was determined based on one criterion. It was considered normal if the intermediate zone of the disc was located between the condyle and the articular eminence. Joints were classified as normal or as having disc displacement with or without reduction. The sensitivity and specificity of multiple clinical parameters for predicting the condition of the joint established by each of these 4 gold-standard MRI criteria were then determined. Regarding disc displacement with reduction, significant differences were observed in the sensitivity and specificity of all of the clinical parameters used to predict the imaging diagnosis established by each of the criteria. Concerning disc displacement without reduction, no significant differences were observed. The intermediate zone criterion was the criterion that most accurately reflected the condition of the joint. The clinical predictability of the disorder diagnosed according to this criterion suggests that clinical findings alone are too often nonspecific as predictors of the imaging stage of disc displacement. However, we found that combining the most sensitive clinical items to predict the disorder and using an overall criterion for positivity to interpret the results led to an impressive increase in the specificity of the combination, enabling false-positive diagnoses to be excluded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-660
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of dental research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Disc displacement
  • Internal derangements
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Temporomandibular disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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