The purposes of the study were to evaluate the utility of diagnosing degenerative joint disease (DJD) by the clinical finding of coarse crepitus alone, without supporting imaging studies, as defined by the RDC/TMD, and to evaluate the contribution of panoramic radiography as an aid in the diagnosis of DJD. A retrospective analysis of 372 consecutive patients with TMD was conducted. Their panoramic radiographs were evaluated for the extent of their contribution to the final diagnosis. Panoramic radiography was of no diagnostic value in 94·4% of the cases when the group was considered as a whole. When patients diagnosed with DJD were considered separately, panoramic radiography was completely sufficient for reaching the final diagnosis in 20·0% of the cases. In almost 90% of these patients, however, the clinical examination did not support the diagnosis of DJD (no coarse crepitus was found). This raises some doubts about the effectiveness of the clinical examination according to the RDC/TMD and about the utility of panoramic radiography in the definitive diagnosis of DJD, because both techniques have low accuracy (11·1% and 20%, respectively). The present study supports the current recommendations that panoramic radiography should not be ordered routinely to assess DJD, but still it is first choice when any dental problem is suspected. Further additional imaging (computerized tomography, magnetic resonance imaging) should be considered only if there is reason to expect that the findings might affect diagnosis and management. This study adds to recent criticisms of the clinical validity of the RDC/TMD, with regard to DJD.
- Panoramic radiography
- Research Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandibular Disorders