Research Article| Volume 58, ISSUE 9, e45-e50, November 2020

External fixation greatly improves outcomes in the surgical treatment of osteoradionecrosis of the jaws without affecting quality of life: a five-year retrospective study


      Osteoradionecrosis of the jaw can be treated using both conservative treatment and surgery. External fixation may be used to bridge large resection defects after sequestrectomy for stabilisation and before secondary mandibular reconstruction. We designed a retrospective analysis of 70 patients with osteoradionecrosis treated between the years 2014 and 2018, and found that the use of external fixation greatly improves their outcomes. Patients were grouped according to Notani’s classification: those who had Notani I disease were treated surgically but without external fixation; and those with Notani II and Notani III disease were eligible for external fixation. In those with Notani II disease, there was a significant reduction in the number of pathological fractures that occurred with external fixation. In those with Notani III disease, the success rate of primary sequestrectomy was only 1:14; however, those treated with external fixation all successfully healed after their first operation. It was hypothesised that although external fixation would improve outcome, it would come at a detriment to their quality of life (QoL). However, in a subset of these patients, we showed that in addition to increasing successful healing, patients’ QoL with the external fixator was no worse than when they had an active osteonecrotic lesion. The treatment of osteoradionecrosis is cumbersome and advanced stages are associated with more complications. The use of an external fixator significantly reduces the probability of pathological fractures and increases the rate of successful healing in patients after mandibular resection. It does this without greatly interfering with patients’ lives, while improving their condition sufficiently to allow for subsequent mandibular reconstruction.


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