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National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery
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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 228-231

Neuralgia-inducing cavitational osteonecrosis – Fact or myth, the debate persists

Consultant Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Saifee Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Yazad R Gandhi
Saifee Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/njms.NJMS_5_19

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Neuralgia-inducing cavitational osteonecrosis (NICO) is a debated condition characterized by cavitary lesions in the maxillary-mandibular region, often missed on conventional radiographs, and the golden standard for diagnostic measures is bone scintigraphy. It may arise secondary to trauma, such as dental extraction and endodontic treatment, and due to a low-grade chronic infection. NICO has been documented as a frequent cause of face pain involving the trigeminal nerve divisions. It may be severe, piercing pain, of short duration or even continuous pain of moderate intensity. It affects females with a greater predilection than males. A lack of awareness of the condition among health professionals is often put into the basket of atypical facial pain. Current studies describe ischemic alveolar bone marrow coagulation disorders as the cause for NICO, which may also be the result of thrombosis with or without hypofibrinolysis, which would obstruct vascular spaces impairing blood flow in the region. Treatment is decided on a case basis, depending on the clinicians' experience, on previous treatments, on the patient's general status, and more importantly, whether the site is edentulous or dentate. If surgical intervention is chosen, tissue should be sent for pathological examination. Over the years, with the advance of imaging diagnosis processes and the study and detection of genetic changes, one may also include as a cause of NICO the decreased bone marrow blood flow causing bone cavities. All of this was also associated with genetic mutations which would predispose patients to thrombophilia and hypofibrinolysis.

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