PDF: Temporomandibular disorders, trismus and malignancy: development of a checklist to improve patient safety


Trismus is a restriction in the ability to open the mouth. Trismus can occur following trauma, surgery, radiation therapy, infection, inflammatory diseases, temporomandibular disorders (TMD) or less commonly as a result of malignancy.



Following two cases of delayed diagnosis of carcinoma presenting with features of TMD to a specialist clinic, a checklist was developed for completion in cases of trismus, to alert the clinician to suspicious features suggesting a possible nonTMD cause. 


The use of this checklist, together with an increased awareness, has improved early recognition of atypical features in patients presenting with trismus and has contributed to the early diagnosis of a further case of malignancy presenting to this clinic. This article discusses the presentation of malignancy with trismus, the relevance of imaging in these cases, and the implementation of a checklist to reduce the risk of future misdiagnosis.

H. P. Beddis, S. J. Davies, A. Budenberg, K. Horner and M. N. Pemberton
British Dental Journal 2014






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