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Volume 8 , Issue 3
Summer 1994

Pages 243-249


Histologic characteristics of the lateral pterygoid muscle insertion to the temporomandibular joint

Bittar/Bibb/Pullinger


PMID: 7812221

This study used low-power light microscopy to examine the histologic organization of the lateral pterygoid muscle interface with the temporomandibular joint. The sample included parasagittal sections of 20 intact temporomandibular joints from young adults (mean age 26.2 years) at autopsy. The lateral pterygoid muscle showed no consistent divisions into separate anatomic muscle heads at the insertion. The muscle fibers attached to the pterygoid fovea of the condyle immediately inferior to the articular surface in all cases. Some additional fibers inserted superiorly into the more anterior part of the articular disc in a minority of cases (31%). Fibers inserting into the disc represented only 2.4% to 6% of the total superior-inferior length of the muscle insertion. It is hypothesized that the muscular force exerted by these few fibers inserting into the disc would not be sufficient to displace the disc anteriorly to the condyle. There were two histologic types of insertion of the lateral pterygoid muscle to the condyle. The superior part of the insertion was characterized by an identifiable tendon inserting through fibrocartilage. In the inferior part of the insertion, the muscle attached to periosteum without an obvious tendon. The presence of this tendon must be recognized in interpretation of soft tissue temporomandibular joint imaging.


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