Computerized tomography (CT) has proved a useful tool in reconstructive dental implant surgery in which a bone graft is required. It provides reliable information in diagnosis and treatment planning and has been used to determine the volume of bone for grafts. Now dentistry is finding postsurgical uses for CT as well.
An article in the current issue of the Journal of Oral Implantology relates two case studies in which CT played an essential role. Both cases used CT scanning before and up to one year after the patients’ oral surgery. With this technology, oral surgeons were able to gauge the healing process following surgery that reconstructs the jaw and prepares it for future implants.
Bone grafts in which the graft material is harvested within the patient’s own jaw are commonly used in this type of reconstructive surgery. Areas where bone can be safely harvested can be determined with CT scanning before surgery.
Dentists are now turning this technology in a new direction, following the patient’s recovery progress after surgery. In one of the cases, the technology was used not only to evaluate the success of the implant, but also to check the condition of the graft donor sites. In the other case, CT scans helped determine the patient’s readiness to receive three implants six months after the initial surgery, and evaluate new bone formation, the condition of the sinus membrane and radiographic change.
While radiolucency was still apparent in the area where the two halves of the jaw bone meet, at 5½ months following the surgery in one case, and one year in the other, the size of the defect was notably reduced. Healing was uneventful for these two patients, as they showed a good acceptance of the procedure. Past the one-year point of this study, CT scanning could also be used to evaluate progress of remineralization and other long-term changes.