In the past, Dr. Short has relied on the sense of touch (palpation of the joints) to preliminarily diagnose temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). While this is the standard of TMD diagnostics, we have improved the accuracy of our TMD exams by incorporating Doppler ultrasound auscultation to listen to our patients’ temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
Listening to our patients’ joints is an important step in the TMJ/occlusal exam process. We use a high-tech receiver—basically a stethoscope with a microphone that incorporates the Doppler wave (sound) effect—to listen to the amount of friction and quality of lubrication within the TMJ. The patient will be asked to move his or her jaw in several directions, allowing Dr. Short to detect any abnormal clicking or grating sounds coming from the joint in motion.
In comparison to diagnostic imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), radiography (X-ray), and computed tomography (CT), Doppler auscultation is an entirely non-invasive and radiation-free diagnostic procedure.