Intra-oral soft tissue expansion and volume stability of onlay bone grafts

Peter Abrahamsson
Swedish Dental Journal. Supplement 2011, (211): 11-66
Insufficient regeneration of missing bone and soft-tissue may present aesthetic or functional problems in patients indicated for dental implant surgery. Several techniques such as bone grafts, bone substitutes and guided tissue regeneration (GTR) have been described to rebuild a compromised alveolar ridge. Adequate soft-tissue coverage of grafted bone and titanium-mesh is important to avoid exposure which may result in loss of the bone graft. The general aim of this thesis was to evaluate use of an osmotic tissue expander for expanding intra-oral soft tissue--creating a surplus of soft tissue-- in preparation for onlay bone grafting. An experimental rabbit model was used in studies (I), (II) and (III). In (I) an osmotic soft-tissue expander was placed bilaterally on the lateral wall of the mandible via an extra-oral approach. After two weeks of expansion the rabbits were killed and specimens were collected for histology. No inflammatory reaction and no resorbtion of the cortical bone occured. The periosteum was expanded and new bone formation was seen in the edges of the expander. In (II) and (III) the expander was placed under the periosteum in the same way as in (I): bilaterally in 13 rabbits in (II) and unilaterally in 11 rabbits in (III). After two weeks of expansion the expander was identified and removed. In (II) particulated bone was placed at the recipient site protected by a titanium mesh in one site and a bio-resorbable mesh on the other site. In (III), DBBM particles and bone particles collected from the lateral border of the mandible separated by a collagen membrane was placed at the recipient site. The graft was protected by a pre-bent titanium mesh covered by a collagen membrane. After a healing period of 3 months specimens were collected for histological and SEM examination. New bone was growing in direct contact with the titanium mesh and bio resorbable mesh. The newly formed bone had the same calcium content as the mature bone in the base of the mandible. In the clinical study (IV) 20 patients were consecutively recruited and randomised into two groups. The experimental group (ten patients) had an osmotic soft tissue expander implanted. After two weeks of expansion the expander was removed and a particulated bone graft protected by a titanium mesh and a collagen membrane was fixed to the recipient site. Titanium implants were installed after a healing period of 6 months. The patients in the reference group had a bone block grafted from the anterior ramus fixated to the recipient site with one or two titanium mini screws. Implants were installed after a healing period of 6 months. A three dimensional optical measuring device was used to measure alterations in the soft tissue profile before each surgical procedure. The three-dimensional changes were then analysed on a PC. The results from the clinical study in patients confirmed the results from the experimental rabbit studies. The osmotic tissue expander expanded the soft tissue. Expander perforations of the soft tissue occurred in two patients. The optical measurements demonstrated a positive volume gain after soft tissue expansion and bone grafting. The expanded tissue could be used to cover a bone graft. There still was a risk of mesh exposure, even after soft tissue expansion, which occurred in two patients. In both groups, implants could be installed in the grafted bone in positions that would allow the crowns to fit aesthetically into the dental arch.

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