• horse;
  • temporomandibular joint;
  • computed tomography;
  • anatomy;
  • cross-sectional imaging


Reasons for performing study: The equine temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and its surrounding structures can be difficult to investigate in cases with a clinical problem related to the region. Little previous attention has been given either to a computed tomographic (CT) imaging protocol for the joint or an interpretation of the structures displayed in CT images of the normal joint.

Objectives: To provide a CT atlas of the normal cross-sectional anatomy of the equine TMJ using frozen and plastinated sections as anatomical reference.

Methods: Eight TMJs from 4 immature pure-bred Spanish horses were examined by helical CT. Scans were processed with a detailed algorithm to enhance bony and soft tissue. Transverse CT images were reformatted into sagittal and dorsal planes. Transverse, sagittal and dorsal cryosections were then obtained, photographed and plastinated. Relevant anatomic structures were identified in the CT images and corresponding anatomical sections.

Results: In the CT images, a bone window provided excellent bone detail, however, the soft tissue components of the TMJ were not as well visualised using a soft tissue window. The articular cartilage was observed as a hyperattenuating stripe over the low attenuated subchondral bone and good delineation was obtained between cortex and medulla. The tympanic and petrous part of the temporal bone (middle and inner ear) and the temporohyoid joint were seen in close proximity to the TMJ.

Conclusions: Helical CT provided excellent images of the TMJ bone components to characterise the CT anatomy of the normal joint.

Potential relevance: Detailed information is provided that may be used as a reference by equine veterinarians for the CT investigation of the equine TMJ and serve to assist them in the diagnosis of disorders of the TMJ and related structures (middle and inner ear). The study was performed at an immature stage and further studies of mature individuals are required in order to confirm that the clinical interpretation is not affected by changes occurring with age.