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Radiographic findings in bisphosphonate-treated patients with stage 0 disease in the absence of bone exposure

PURPOSE: Radiographic features in patients with bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (BRONJ) are well described, but less is known in bisphosphonate-exposed individuals with stage 0 disease (clinical symptoms without exposed necrotic bone) considered at risk for BRONJ. We sought to characterize radiographic findings in a subgroup of patients with concerning clinical symptoms and bisphosphonate exposure to identify imaging features that may presage development of BRONJ. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A dental symptom survey was returned by 8,572 Kaiser Permanente Health Plan members receiving chronic oral bisphosphonate therapy, and 1,005 patients reporting pertinent dental symptoms or complications after dental procedures were examined. Those without BRONJ but with concerning symptoms were referred for clinical evaluation, including imaging. Among the subset who received maxillofacial imaging, we identified those with stage 0 disease and abnormal radiographic features. RESULTS: There were a total of 30 patients without exposed bone but with concerning symptoms who received maxillofacial imaging (panoramic radiography or computed tomography) in the context of clinical care. Among these 30 patients, 10 had stage 0 disease with similar radiographic features of regional or diffuse osteosclerosis in clinically symptomatic areas, most with extension beyond the involved site. Other findings in these 10 patients included density confluence of cortical and cancellous bone, prominence of the inferior alveolar nerve canal, markedly thickened and sclerotic lamina dura, uniform periradicular radiolucencies, cortical disruption, lack of bone fill after extraction, and a persisting alveolar socket. None had exposed bone develop during 1-year follow-up. The remaining 20 patients had normal or localized radiographic findings consistent with odontogenic pathology. CONCLUSION: In 10 of 30 symptomatic patients referred for clinical evaluation and imaging, a consistent finding was conspicuous osteosclerosis in clinically symptomatic areas characteristic of stage 0 disease. These data support the need to better understand radiographic features associated with bisphosphonate exposure and to determine whether osteosclerosis is a specific finding indicative of the risk for progression to BRONJ.

Authors: Hutchinson M; O'Ryan F; Chavez V; Lathon PV; Sanchez G; Hatcher DC; Indresano AT; Lo JC

J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2010 Sep;68(9):2232-40.

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