Panoramic radiography was used to determine (1) intrarater and inter-rater reliability in assessing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) condylar morphology; (2) alteration in condylar shape in patients with temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and controls when matched by age, gender, and state of dentition; and (3) prevalence of condylar abnormalities in individuals with and without TMD.
One hundred panoramic radiographs were randomly selected from a hospital clinic (45 TMD and 55 non-TMD patients). The images were cropped to include only the temporomandibular apparatus and were independently evaluated by three examiners without knowledge of the patient's clinical status. Multiple statistical tests were performed to evaluate the accumulated data.
Intrarater reliability demonstrated substantial agreement, while inter-rater reliability was fair. There was no difference in condylar morphology between patient groups, but mild condylar change was prevalent in all age groups, regardless of TMD status.
Morphological condylar abnormalities are present on panoramic images in all adult age ranges, regardless of status of the dentition or presence of TMD. Condylar shape alone is not an indicator of TMD, and minor condylar discrepancies may have no significance in TMD.