Spectrum of magnetic resonance imaging appearances of juvenile Temporomandibular Joints (TMJ) in non-rheumatic children

N. Tzaribachev, J. Fritz, M. Horger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background: Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are frequently involved in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), and gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the only modality for an early diagnosis. However, only very few data exist on the appearance of contrast-enhanced MRI of normal juvenile TMJ. Purpose: To define the spectrum of normal MRI findings of juvenile TMJ, and to assess a possible overlap with findings typical for active synovitis in JIA. Material and Methods: 96 children (192 TMJ), 51 boys and 45 girls with a median age of 7.8 years (range 313 years), underwent a head MRI. The presence of autoimmune disease, including JIA, was excluded via chart history, available laboratory findings, and the absence of known typical pathological MRI changes (degree of synovial enhancement, hyperintense signal on T2-weighted images in the synovia or bone marrow, and morphologic changes of the mandibular condyle) of the TMJ affected by JIA. Results: In 90 (94%) children, the TMJ showed no MRI abnormalities compatible with arthritis. In three children (3%), the only abnormal MRI finding was a small bilateral joint effusion. A further three children (3%) had a mild synovial enhancement seen on both axial and coronal MR planes in one child and only in the axial plane in the other two children. Signal hyperintensity on T2-weighted images and other corresponding characteristics of TMJ inflammation were lacking in all these six patients. Conclusion: The vast majority of juvenile TMJ in non-rheumatic children shows no MRI abnormalities. Exceptions, including a discrete enhancement of the synovial membrane (3%) or small joint effusions (3%), can occur in a minority of patients, but none of them are accompanied by other signs of inflammation or morphological changes of the TMJ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1182-1186
Number of pages5
JournalActa Radiologica
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • MR imaging
  • Temporomandibular joint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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