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Complex jaw joint replacement completed by “fantastic” team

November 2019

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Trudi Hazeldine first started feeling her jaw click around 2012 and had little idea at the time that this would develop into intense pain and stiffness, that was to have a major impact on her life.

“It was the final straw when I went to see my Dental Hygienist and I couldn’t open my mouth,” she says.

“My jaw was locking when I talked, and it could happen at any time, including at work. It was very painful, and it was limiting what I could eat.” Mrs Hazeldin was referred to Mr Chris Lim, a jaw, mouth, neck and face surgeon or ‘maxillofacial’ consultant, located at St George’s Hospital’s Milford Chambers.

Mr Lim sub-specialises in the surgical management of temporomandibular joint dysfunction (otherwise referred to as TMJ), the small joint that connects the jaw bone to the cheek bone.

After careful consultation and discussion, Mrs Hazeldine decided to proceed with a minimally invasive arthroscopy, in the chance this procedure would provide the solution she hoped for.

Initially her symptoms improved, however when her condition deteriorated shortly after, Mrs Hazeldine decided to opt for TMJ total joint replacement on both sides of her face

“Walking into the theatre was quite scary, but the nursing team were fantastic. They communicated everything to me clearly and put me at ease,” Mrs Hazeldine says.

St George’s Hospital staff took care to cater for Mrs Hazeldine’s unique postoperative requirements.

“I tried a range of foods and it turned out that jelly and ice-cream were perfect for both my thirst and my hunger. Everyone was very accommodating, and I felt lucky to be there”.

Mrs Hazeldine appreciated Mr Lim’s consultation process which was thorough and friendly.

“Chris was very refreshing - he communicated my options clearly and in excellent detail. He took care to set my expectations accurately and he also has a great sense of humour.”

Mr Lim explains that the maxillofacial specialty is unique as it requires knowledge and training in the medical, dentistry and surgical fields.

“We are often carrying out procedures in just a few millimetres of space, making precision and accuracy particularly vital.”

“TMJ replacement is a relatively new and uncommon procedure and only a handful of New Zealand consultants complete these as a part of their standard practice,” Mr Lim says.

Mrs Hazeldine is grateful to Mr Lim and the St George’s team for creating a calm and caring atmosphere during what could have been a stressful time.

“I’m glad I had my procedure completed at St George’s, everyone made me feel comfortable and at ease.”

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