Goran Isacsson, David S. Carlson, James A. McNamara, Jr. and Annika M. Isberg
The effect of maxillomandibular fixation on the growth of the mandibular condyle was studied in eight control and eight experimental male juvenile monkeys. All animals had metallic implants placed throughout the craniofacial complex in order to facilitate cephalometric analysis of growth-related changes in the maxillomandibular complex during jaw immobilization. Every 3, 6, 12, and 24 wk after insertion of the appliance two experimental animals were killed for histologic analysis. Cephalometric analysis indicated no major deviation from normal maxillary or mandibular growth in the experimental animals. The condylar growth in the experimental animals was comparable with that of the controls. Histologic analysis indicated that the articular connective tissue in experimental joints remained the same thickness as in the controls. On the postero-superior aspect of the condyle, the thickness of the prechondroblastic-chondroblastic cell layer was reduced by 70-80% in the experimental animals. On the posterior aspect this cell layer was not visible after 12 wk of fixation, but was replaced by a periosteum-like, cell-rich tissue which appeared to be active in appositional formation of cancellous bone. These results indicate that long-term maxillomandibular fixation does not cause major alterations in the growth of condyle or the entire mandible despite a profound decrease of the prechondroblastic-chondroblastic cell layer in the postero-superior and posterior regions of the condyle. The growth is probably due to a compensatory appositional bone formation along the surface of the condyle. It is also concluded that jaw mobility is not a prerequisite for normal maxillary or mandibular growth.