Palpation of the posterior belly of the digastric muscle in the postmandibular region is included in many study protocols and examination schemes of the masticatory system. The aim of the present investigation was to systematically search the dental/medical literature to find evidence for the palpability of this muscle. In August 2004, a systematic search was carried out using different electronic databases (PubMed, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, Japana Centra Revuo Medicina, MedPilot, Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences, and three on-line databases of dental journals not listed currently in Medline), supplemented by manual search in the Austrian journal Stomatologie. Additional manual searches were carried out in the Journal of Orofacial Pain and Journal of Dental Research to identify pertinent abstracts of scientific congresses. One relevant hit was found in the Japanese database. The manual search showed one pertinent congress abstract. In both publications, the authors concluded that due to anatomical reasons the posterior belly of the digastric muscle was not palpable. Hence, evidence is lacking that the posterior digastric muscle is accessible to palpation. Because the postmandibular region is usually tender upon palpation, a high incidence of positive findings can be expected even among healthy subjects. This may lead to wrong clinical judgments, possibly provoking unnecessary diagnostic and therapeutic measures.
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
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