The aim of this study was to determine whether arthrocentesis is superior to conservative treatment in the management of painful temporomandibular joint disorders with restricted opening. A systematic review was undertaken of prospective randomized controlled trials (RCT) comparing arthrocentesis to conservative management, identified in the MEDLINE and PubMed databases. Inclusion criteria included a 6-month follow-up, with clinical assessment of the patients and painful restricted mouth opening. Data extracted included pain measured on a visual analogue scale and maximum mouth opening measured in millimetres. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool 2 for RCTs, and a meta-analysis with the random-effects model was undertaken. Of 879 records retrieved, seven met the inclusion criteria; these RCTs reported the results at 6 months for 448 patients. One study had a low risk of bias, four studies had an uncertain risk, and two had a high risk of bias. In the meta-analysis, arthrocentesis was statistically superior to conservative management at 6 months for an increase in maximum mouth opening (1.12 mm, 95% confidence interval 0.45–1.78 mm; P = 0.001; I2 = 87%) and borderline superior for pain reduction (−1.09 cm, 95% confidence interval −2.19 to 0.01 cm; P = 0.05; I2 = 100%). However, these differences are unlikely to be clinically relevant.
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Published online: January 31, 2023
Accepted: December 9, 2022
Publication stageIn Press Corrected Proof
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