Scanning Microscopy


We studied articular disks and endoarticular loose bodies taken from patients suffering from different types of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pathology. The scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis of the disks and the endoarticular loose bodies was followed by a chemical-compositional analysis using an energy dispersive spectrometer (EDS) and by characterization of the crystalline phases by X-ray powder diffraction (XRD). The articular disks were composed of a central radio-opaque area lacking any evident structural features, surrounded by compact bundles of collagen fibers. EDS and XRD analyses showed that endodiscal radio-opaque areas were hydroxyapatite. By SEM, we observed a fibrous network only in circumscribed areas of the endoarticular loose bodies. The chemical-compositional analysis showed that the loose bodies were composed of calcite (CaCO3). The results of this investigation, along with the clinical history of the patients, allow us to formulate some hypotheses regarding the etiopathogenesis of these structural anomalies. The endodiscal calcifications could be the result of a chronic inflammatory process that produces displastic alterations of the articular disk. Moreover, an acute inflammatory process with modifications in the mechanisms of the synovial fluid turnover seems to be the event that leads to the formation of endoarticular loose bodies.

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