Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery vol:70 issue:10 pages:2264-2270
PURPOSE: To measure sensory disturbances of the inferior alveolar nerve (IAN) after removal of impacted mandibular third molars using cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) and dental panoramic radiography (PAN) for preoperative assessment in a randomized controlled trial and to measure the efficacy of the observers' prediction of IAN exposure at surgery based on CBCT compared with PAN. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The sample consisted of 86 impacted third molars (from 79 consecutive patients) in close relation to the IAN as determined by PAN and judged as showing a "moderate" risk of IAN damage. Cases presenting with no close relation between the IAN and roots and extremely risky cases with an obvious interrelation were excluded. Potential neurosensory disturbances of the lip and chin were assessed before surgery and during the postoperative recall by measuring the function of the IAN with the light-touch sensation method. RESULTS: Postoperative sensory disturbances occurred in 1 patient in the CBCT group and 1 patient in the PAN group. The light-touch sensation test showed no significant differences at the lip (P = .10) and chin (P = .17) levels for CBCT- versus PAN-based surgery. Significant differences in making a correct diagnosis of neurovascular bundle exposure at the extraction of impacted teeth were found between the 2 modalities (P = .029). CONCLUSIONS: Within the limits of the present pilot study, CBCT was not superior to PAN in predicting postoperative sensory disturbances but was superior in predicting IAN exposure during third molar removal in cases judged as having "moderate" risk.