Detecting the earliest radiological signs of bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis

Hugh Devlin, J. Greenwall-Cohen, J. Benton, Tom Goodwin, Anne Littlewood, Keith Horner

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Oral bisphosphonates are the most commonly prescribed anti-resorptive drugs used in the treatment of osteoporosis, but osteonecrosis of the jaw is a serious complication. The early diagnosis of this destructive side effect is crucial in preventing excessive bone loss, pain and infection.

To aid dental practitioners in the early identification of bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw.

A scoping review was carried out.

Data sources
We searched MEDLINE via OVID, EMBASE via OVID, Dentistry and Oral Sciences Source (DOSS), Proquest Dissertation and Theses Search, to identify references that described clinical and radiological findings in medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (MRONJ).

Data selection
Nineteen references mentioned the earliest radiological changes in MRONJ with a description of the observations and were included in the analysis.

Data synthesis
The radiographic signs included osteosclerosis/lysis, widening of the periodontal ligament and thickening of the lamina dura and cortex. To assess the quality of original data on which recommendations had been made, these 19 studies were subjected to a quality appraisal.

Using bone exposure as a criterion for diagnosis of MRONJ, leads to delayed diagnosis and a poor response to treatment. In those patients at risk of bone exposure with MRONJ, insufficient information is present in the literature to allow the general dental practitioner to reliably identify the radiographic features indicating imminent bone exposure. A well-designed prospective study is needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-31
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Issue number1
Early online date17 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2018


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