Diagnoses of Temporomandibular Disorders in Patients Treated with Radiotherapy for Malignant Neoplasms of the Head and Neck: Scoping Review

2021 • Volume 15 • Issue 3

Mario Villegas-Salinas & Rolando E. Morales-Espinosa



Head and neck malignant neoplasms are usually treated with surgery combined with radiotherapy, causing alterations in the maxillofacial structures, leaving sequelae in the tissues related to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and associated muscles. The literature is not clear about the pretreatment evaluation and diagnosis of cancer patients or their correct evaluation, so the diagnoses could be wrong. An scoping review of the literature was carried out presenting the most up-to-date information regarding the diagnoses and relevant outcomes of temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) in patients treated with radiotherapy for head and neck cancer. Four (4) electronic bibliographic databases were reviewed including original articles in English from January 2010 to July 2020 focused on the evaluation and diagnosis of TTMs and morphofunctionally associated tissues in a narrow group of patients. 353 articles were found that applied the inclusion and exclusion criteria. 7 relevant articles for evaluation. The association between the degree of exposure to radiotherapy and the molecular changes in the tissues that induce mandibular hypometry may be debatable due to not considering a careful study of the TMJ and its associated tissues, nor a specific pre-radiotherapy diagnosis to determine the preexistence of some TMD, inducing its aggravation or perpetuation. The literature is not explicit regarding the signs and symptoms associated with a correct examination of the temporomandibular joint and associated structures prior to radiotherapy. Trismus is only a sign of functional alteration of the stomatognathic system, but not a diagnosis in itself, which must be made based on standardized criteria and performed by an Orofacial Pain Specialist. To our knowledge, this is the first review that attempts to summarize the most current and relevant evidence on the diagnoses of temporomandibular disorders other than “trismus” in this group of patients.

KEY WORDS: cancer, radiotherapy, temporomandibular disorders.


How to cite this article

VILLEGAS-SALINAS, M. & MORALES-ESPINOSA, R. E. Diagnoses of temporomandibular disorders in patients treated with radiotherapy for malignant neoplasms of the head and neck: Scoping review. Int. J. Odontostomat., 15(3):639-645, 2021.


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