Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 257–265

Open versus closed reduction: diacapitular fractures of the mandibular condyle

Review Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10006-012-0337-6

Cite this article as:
Chrcanovic, B.R. Oral Maxillofac Surg (2012) 16: 257. doi:10.1007/s10006-012-0337-6



The purpose of the study was to review the literature regarding the evolution of current thoughts on management of diacapitular fractures (DFs) of the mandibular condyle.


An electronic search in PubMed was undertaken in March 2012. The titles and abstracts from these results were read to identify studies within the selection criteria. Eligibility criteria included studies reporting clinical series of DFs, including both animal and human studies, without date or language restrictions.


The search strategy initially yielded 108 references. Twenty-eight studies were identified without repetition within the selection criteria. Additional hand-searching of the reference lists of selected studies yielded three additional papers.


The current indications for open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of DFs described in the literature are: (a) fractures affecting the lateral condyle with reduction of mandibular height; (b) fractures in which the proximal fragment dislocates laterally out of the glenoid fossa, which cannot be reduced by closed or open treatment of another part of the mandibular fracture. The indications for conservative treatment are: (a) fractures that do not shorten the condylar height (a fracture with displacement of the medial parts of the condyle); (b) undisplaced fractures; (c) comminution of the condylar head, when the bony fragments are too small for stable fixation; and (d) fractures in children. As the temporomandibular joint disk plays an important role as a barrier preventing ankylosis, it is important to reposition the disk (if displaced/dislocated) during the surgical treatment of DFs. The lateral pterygoid muscle should never be stripped from the medially displaced fragment because its desinsertion disrupts circulation to the medial bony fragment, and also because this muscle helps to restore the muscle function after surgery. ORIF of selected DFs improves prognosis by anatomical bone and soft tissue recovery when combined with physical therapy. If conducted properly, surgical treatment of DFs is a safe and predictable procedure and yields good results.


Diacapitular condylar fractureOpen reductionInternal fixationClosed reductionTMJ diskLateral pterygoid muscle

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Belo HorizonteBrazil