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Problems with TMJ Implants Prompt FDA Action

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Washington, DCThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ordered three manufacturers of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) implants to conduct postmarket surveillance studies to determine the length of time before the implants are removed or replaced due to pain or other reasons.

The TMJ connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone in the skull. A person may have an implant to replace the socket in the temporal bone or the rounded edge of the lower jaw that glides in the temporal bone socket because of an injury, arthritis, physical abnormality, or lost mobility.

The three manufacturers, TMJ Solutions, TMJ Medical, and Biomet Microfixation, make all of the currently approved TMJ devices marketed in the United States. The companies will have 30 days to submit a study plan which will need to be approved by the agency before any postmarket studies can begin.

The FDA analyzed TMJ implant-related adverse event reports submitted between April 30, 2004 and Aug. 17, 2010. The analysis described a substantial number of patients who had implants replaced within three years or less after implantation because of extreme pain. This is considerably shorter than the expected minimum five-year life span of the device, based on premarket mechanical testing.

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