Purpose: This study examined the changes in the position of the fractured condylar process immediately before and immediately after application of arch bars and at 6 weeks after surgery in a group of patients who underwent closed treatment. Patients and Methods: Sixty-five patients over the age of 16 years underwent closed treatment of unilateral mandibular condylar process fractures. Coronal and sagittal displacement of the condylar process was examined using Towne's and panoramic radiographs before treatment, immediately after placement of arch bars, and at 6 weeks. The change in position of the condylar process from one time to the next was analyzed statistically. Results: There was a statistically significant difference (mean, -5.5°) in the coronal position of the condylar processes from immediately after injury to immediately after placement of arch bars. There was great variability, with some segments becoming more medially displaced and some more laterally displaced. In contrast, mean change in the sagittal position of the condylar process was not statistically significant, although some became more anteriorly and others became more posteriorly displaced. Similarly, from immediately after placement of arch bars to 6 weeks, there was great variability in position of the condylar process, but the overall change was not statistically significant. Conclusions: The results of this study showed that position of the condylar process is not static in patients treated for condylar process fractures by closed means. These results suggest that care must be taken in basing treatment decisions on the degree of displacement or dislocation of the condylar process in presurgical radiographs.
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