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Keywords:

  • Bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaws;
  • free flap reconstruction;
  • vascularized bone graft;
  • mandible osteonecrosis;
  • Level of Evidence: 4.

Abstract

Objectives/Hypothesis:

To describe the clinical entity and therapeutic challenges of bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaws (BRONJ). The use of vascularized bone grafts for reconstruction of the mandible in extensive BRONJ is proposed.

Study Design:

Multi-institutional retrospective review.

Methods:

Patients undergoing mandible reconstruction with vascularized bone grafts after segmental mandible resection for BRONJ were evaluated. Mandible reconstruction was only performed on patients with intractable pain, fistulae, or pathologic fracture and after failure of comprehensive conservative therapy. No patients had a history of primary or metastatic head and neck malignancy or radiation therapy. Bone union was established with follow-up radiography.

Results:

Eleven patients met inclusion criteria. Mean patient age was 61.3 years. Median follow-up was 13.9 months. All patients had undergone therapy with bisphosphonates and had no other identifiable cause of mandible osteonecrosis. Preoperatively, pathologic mandible fractures were present in 73% of patients, and 36% had orocutaneous fistulae. Fibula osteocutaneous flaps were used in all cases with no failures. In all patients, bony union was demonstrated clinically and radiographically. Postoperative wound complications occurred in 36% of patients but were all treated successfully with conservative therapy. There was no BRONJ recurrence within the study follow-up period.

Conclusions:

Osteonecrosis is a significant complication of bisphosphonate therapy, and current literature does not support vascularized reconstruction. We demonstrate that vascularized bone graft reconstruction with the fibula free flap offers a high success rate of bony union and fistula closure and should be offered to selected patients with advanced cases of BRONJ. Laryngoscope, 2010