The Proplat Implants ~ A Physcians Summary

Teflon-Proplast Implants

by Keith Webster

One of our many correspondents wrote about problems after a Teflon TMJ Implant:
” I had a Teflon implant removed from my TMJ joints in 1987 which had been implanted in 1984. At the time there seemed to be no negative reaction although the surgical report stated foreign body reaction had been observed. Unfortunately I was involved in a car accident complications from which affected the TMJ requiring grafting of rib material to reconstruct the jaw.

My question is: Are there any tests to see if the teflon residue can be detected in either the tissue removed in the later surgery or even now post surgically (there seem to be some complications in the right joint).”

A TMJ implant, which was made out of a Teflon-Proplast material and used as a meniscus replacement. With hindsight severe degenerative changes occurred in about 90% of cases.

The implant disintegrated under load, producing a foreign body giant cell reaction , subsequent bone erosion and lymphadenopathy. [disease of the lymph nodes]

Vitek withdrew the implant and went into liquidation. The U.S. Food and Drug administration subsequently produced a consensus statement advising the removal of all symptomatic implants and 6 monthly radiographic follow-up of asymptomatic patients.

A foreign body reaction is seen after any implantation of any alloplastic material and is a chronic inflammatory response. (Also called Giant Cell Response) However if the response is low-grade and produces no symptoms then no action is necessary. There are analogies here with the similar response to reactions to implantable silicone breast implants.

Unfortunately the search for a biocompatible TMJ implant has not produced any serious contenders and in the UK and USA. Most TMJ reconstructions are performed with auto-grafts of cartilage capped rib (costochondral grafts) or new menisci are formed by using interpositional muscle or dermal grafts. The main prosthetic TMJ under consideration in the UK and USA is the Christensen prosthesis composed of a cobalt-chrome articular fossa and a methyl methacrylate condyle replacement attached to a cobalt chrome ascending ramus. However there appear to be no long-term solutions to the multiply operated patient and only about 5% of all patients treated for TMJ disorders undergo open TMJ surgery.


US Food and Drug Administration: FDA Safety Alert. Rockville, MD, US Food and Drug Administration Dec. 28 1990

Kaplan PA, Tu HK, Williams SM. Erosive arthritis of the temporomandibular joint caused by Teflon-Proplast implants: Plain film features. Am J Roentgenol 1988; 151: 337-340

Dolwick MF, Dimitroulis G. Is there a role for temporomandibular joint surgery? Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg 1994; 32: 307-313.

“To answer the question whether tests could detect traces of Teflon, yes, a biopsy of the joint area might show microscopic bits of Teflon. However, it is not clear what the results could mean. It would be quite difficult to remove all particles of Teflon when removing an implant. Many patients who have had Teflon implants removed are now showing signs of foreign body reaction, and traces of Teflon surely remain. Teflon implants are used successfully in other parts of the body – in places not subjected to heavy stress – indicating that Teflon itself may not be harmful.

In general, patients who undergo TMJ surgery are rarely pain-free and seldom experience a complete resolution of TMJ symptoms. They usually have some continued complications. Armed with this knowledge, patients with mild or minimal TMJ symptoms can avoid wasting time and money seeking a medical ‘cure’ which probably does not exist. Instead, concentrate on changing behavior patterns or bad habits like bruxing, clenching, chewing gum, etc.

Teflon-coated TMJ implants were manufactured exclusively by the Vitek Corporation beginning in 1973 until the company folded about 1993. The U.S. Public Health Service sent warning letters to 20,000 people who received Vitek implants. Symptoms of TMJ implant breakdown include;

  • pain radiating from around the ear
  • limited lower jaw movement
  • joint noise
  • change in occlusion (bite)
  • difficulty chewing
  • headaches

Concerned patients in the US may call Medic Alert, a non-profit foundation, telephone 800-554-5297, for further information about where to find TMJ support groups. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has information about TMJ implants, telephone 301-443-4190 or 301-443-3170.”

Submitted by Robert B. Stevenson, DDS, MS
Columbus, Ohio

Further contributions on this subject are invited.

Barefoot Baroness aka Toni Taylor-Helser as an implant survivor says:

If you are reading this because you have been diagnosed (d/x) with TMJ disease and/or received TM Jaw Implants please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

If I had to do it over again and I had the hindsight of information that today I carry, I WOULD NOT HAVE SURGERY with man-made foreign material implants. IF, and I say if you have bone on bone in the joint(s) than a surgical reconstruction of the disintegrated cartilage should be considered to repair so to alleviate pain and bone erosion. But thex only way I would go in to it today would be armed with the knowledge I have now somehow and that is with only an auto-graft. What I HAVE NOW. Harvested from somewhere else on your body (mine is cartilage from the backs of my ears & hips in my second surgery). If you do not have any degeneration of the joint and a doctor is recommending surgery I would run as fast I could to the closest exit. If a doctor is diagnosing you with such demand the films, take them with you to a second opinion.

Today after over 30 years of research and study concerning TMJ disease and talking with other people afflicted the popular treatment modality today is wait it out. There are many things that can be mastered to help cope and alleviate the pain and spasms.

Please just don’t be ready to jump when surgery is offered. I know how tempting the promise of no pain can be. But it is never NO More Pain. It can make things much worse even though today the implants that have caused so much destruction are no longer marketed there is still a risk with any surgery. And there are still medical implants being used every day. They are also being recalled by the FDA every day. Not much has 30 yrs.

Again, Thank you so much for your time, and your attention.

8 thoughts on “The Proplat Implants ~ A Physcians Summary

  1. I am also a survivor of the Vitek implant. Thank you so much for sharing your story and documentation. Searching the internet I have found fellow sufferers at various sites, but nothing specifically about the implants. I was wondering if you would consider starting a group on Google Plus or Facebook so we could connect and compare what is happening with our health in the aftermath of these implants. You can read my story at: Blessings, Brenda

    • Hello Brenda. What a lovely surprise you are to find. I think you have a fabulous idea. I am not certain I can commit to this as I am writing for 4 blogs now. This has been my intent & agenda all along though to connect with fellow & sister implant survivors. We have frightening things going on with our bodies, and it appears the medical profession is still reluctant to speak on the rejection process.
      I think it’s worth investigating and I would be honored to be part of this. Is this something you would consider being a partner on? I have done a lot of gathering documents over the years, not all are are even here at FullCircledMe yet.
      Can we chat? I am on my way now to read your story. Thanks so much for sharing.~ BB

      • I would be interested in working with you on a group. I have created [non related] pages and groups on Facebook and a community on Google Plus. What I love about Google is the ability to create categories that allows you to search the various posts. I belong to the TMJ hope Facebook page and there is no way to find specific information. I was looking for information of the implants and just got tired of scrolling. I realize you are very busy and I understand limitations. When you have the time and feel up to it…would you be interested in joining Google plus, posting your links and information, and being a co-moderator with me? I will work on the site. I would like to share my story and treatments. I have just starting working with a new neurologists and pain specialist. He is the first medical doctor who has taken a CT of my jaw. I am still getting various tests and haven’t gone in to review all of the information yet, but I am very hopeful he is going help. You can contact me on Facebook or Google.

      • So happy you replied again. I would be honored to work with you on this. I have never tried google+ but from what you say its the perfect platform to use for a project like this.

        i am in the middle of a writing challenge where I must finish a 30,000 word count by the end of the month and I will receive a self publishing certificate from amazon so I am pushing. Would it be possible for us to wait until the 1st of May at least for my formal input? I do have posts that we can just copy and paste if you would like, depending on the subject. I have been writing about this for 30 yrs so I am sure I can be an asset to the cause. Its just spreading myself too thin will back fire. So I try not to.

        You have your hands full medically, waiting to put it all together is almost as stressful as living it I know. God Bless you Brenda for still wanting to reach out and be there for others.Please keep me posted with the info and how you are doing.
        If you have found like me though it is his getting out side our own personal pain and striving to thrive while helping others that makes a difference. I have found I cope better.
        So yes my friend let us become partners and I will do my best to help where and when you need. have you thought of any title or name for this yet? I Have not either.

        Hope to hear from you and I will head on over to your other sites today. Thank you for the links.
        I think I told you about my primary blog but failed to add the link. So like me, Fibro Fog at its finest!

  2. Great! I don’t want to interrupt your writing. How exciting you are getting published. No problem waiting until May. Vitek Survivors seems like a fitting name. I have found, searching for communities to join, it is best to have a name that will come up in a search. Here is what I have put together so far: It is very easy to change anything. If you have a picture for the community profile let me know. I don’t foresee it being too much extra work…just copy and paste anything you already have written or collected or link to your blogs.

  3. So happy I found you even though your post is about 4 years old.
    I’ve had TMJ since I was 4. That year I fell on my face, knocking out teeth, and was in a car accident where I hit the metal back of the front seat (no seatbelts those days). I had a horrific bruise on my chin for a long time and a lot of swelling.
    Now it’s 48 years later. I’ve had TMJ treament before–last time was 10 years ago with a splint. At that time I had arthritis in the joint and very little disk.
    Now the disk is gone. I am on a liquid diet or my jaw dislocates. Can’t sleep on my side, speech is affected, and of course, pain, because pretty much anything makes it dislocate. It triggers migraines + the usual TMJ pain. I’m disabled for chronic pain anyway, and immune deficiency. I pay out of pocket for acupuncture every 2 weeks–all I can afford. On Medicaid/Medicare with SSDI. I am so scared. I am going to have to fight to get this paid for. None of the treatments sound very promising. As a chronic pain patient, the prospect of surgery will guaranttee more pain. I may have to travel elsewhere if I can’t find a doctor here with the right skills who will also see me with my income level and poor insurance. All this and ACA repeal, too.
    I would love any and all help you can offer. Thank you

  4. Hi Lisa,
    I am so glad you found this blog. Firstly let me thank you for your sharing. I know how personal this is.
    I also understand what you are living with. I am a Vitek Proplast Implant survivor who continues to have disc and joint degeneration as well as that of my mandibular-both upper and lower. I am also a chronic pain patient and have an auto-immune disease due to the polymers of the failed implants, Life isn’t easy for anyone dealing with any aspect of TMJ disease and injury.

    Typically my advice to someone who was dealing with TMJ dysfunction would be wait it out with the least invasive treatment modalities possible. Because of the failed implant disaster that I am a victim of in hindsight I wish that I had not had the arthoplasty surgery, But I understand desperation from pain and a body that won’t function properly

    Because you have such structural and tissue degeneration and injury I cannot speak to what your options might be, but I do suggest treading very carefully and fully vetting any options given to you. Please feel welcome to continue contacting me, I might be able to be of help in the researching treatment options.

    My heart breaks again every time I find another TMJ patient who’s coping with so much. No one knows but us how it alters our lives forever.

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