Repair of temporomandibular joint disc perforation using a synovial membrane flap in Macaca fascicularis monkeys: Light and electron microscopy studies

Mohamed M. Sharawy, Emad S. Helmy, Robert A. Bays, Vera B. Larke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Previous studies have demonstrated that experimentally produced perforations in the discs of Macaca fascicularis monkeys lead to osteoarthrosis. Synovial membrane hyperplasia also was demonstrated in monkey and human joints with disc perforations. The hypothesis was advanced that a synovial flap obtained from within the affected joint would be the most appropriate tissue to repair chronic disc perforation. To test this hypothesis, four adult M fascicularis monkeys were anesthetized and 4- to 6-mm perforations were made in the posterolateral aspects of the avascular discs bilaterally. The wounds were sutured leaving the perforations open, and the animals were fed their normal diet. After 4 weeks, one joint in each monkey was reopened and a repair was performed using a double-layered flap from the synovial lining of the superior and inferior recesses. Four weeks after repair, the animals were killed and the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) were removed en bloc and decalcified. The joints were sectioned into lateral, middle, and medial sections and were photographed using a stereomicroscope and then processed for light and electron microscopy. The same processing was done to four intact joints that were used as controls. Eight weeks following perforation, the joint components showed degenerative changes consistent with osteoarthritis. Close to the perforations the disc showed loss of collagen, vacuolation of extracellular matrix, accumulation of dense proteoglycan-like material, and the appearance within the disc of type A or macrophage-like cells of the synovium. The discal tissue away from the perforation showed high cellularity and vascularity. The temporal and condylar surfaces showed denudation, fibrillation, osteophytes, and chondrocytic clustering, all characteristics of osteoarthrosis. The surgically repaired discs were intact and the articular surfaces showed no degenerative changes. Discal collagen was restored and appearance of myofibroblasts and elastogenesis were a consistent feature of the repaired disc. The vascularity of the condylar cartilage of the repaired joints appeared similar to that of embryonic cartilage. The reversibility of the degenerative alterations following discal repair in this experimental model should provide the basis for a rational and useful method for surgical repair of TMJ disc perforation using intraarticular synovial tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-270
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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