BioMed Research International

BioMed Research International / 2018 / Article
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Adverse Reactions to Anticancer Drugs in the Oral Cavity

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Review Article | Open Access

Volume 2018 |Article ID 9858921 | https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/9858921

Roberto Sacco, Nicola Sacco, Umar Hamid, Syed Hasan Ali, Mark Singh, John St. J. Blythe, "Microsurgical Reconstruction of the Jaws Using Vascularised Free Flap Technique in Patients with Medication-Related Osteonecrosis: A Systematic Review", BioMed Research International, vol. 2018, Article ID 9858921, 12 pages, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/9858921

Microsurgical Reconstruction of the Jaws Using Vascularised Free Flap Technique in Patients with Medication-Related Osteonecrosis: A Systematic Review

Academic Editor: Noam Yarom
Received21 Jan 2018
Revised02 Apr 2018
Accepted09 May 2018
Published07 Jun 2018

Abstract

Background. Osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) has been reported to be associated with patients receiving primarily bisphosphonate (BP) therapies. However, lately it has been documented that other medications, such as RANK ligand inhibitor (denosumab) and antiangiogenic drug, can cause ONJ. Micro-osseous-vascular reconstruction of the jaws in patients affected by medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaw represents a viable option of treatment for patients affected by stage III of the disease. However, there are still considerable doubts about the success of this procedure in the short, medium, and long term. Material and Methods. A multidatabase (PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CENTRAL) systematic search was performed. Any type of studies considering human patients treated with antiresorptive and antiangiogenic drugs was considered. The aim of the research is to primarily understand the success rate of micro-osseous-vascular reconstruction in the short, medium, and long period of time. This review has also the goal of better understanding any perioperative and postoperative complications resulting from the use of the reconstruction techniques. Results. Eighteen studies resulted eligible for the study. Fibula free flap is the most commonly utilised vascularised free flap reconstruction technique (80.76%). Ten out of eighteen studies reported no complications. Recurrence of osteonecrosis was registered in five cases (6.41%) after free flap reconstruction. The overall free flap success rate was 96.16%. Conclusions. Based on the limited data available in literature (Level 4 of the Oxford Evidence-based medicine scale), micro-osseous-vascular reconstruction of the jaws represents a valid treatment in patients with bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis at stage III of the disease. However, additional data based on a larger cohort of patients are necessary to justify this type of intervention in patient affected by MRONJ.

1. Introduction

Bisphosphonates (BP) are antiresorptive drugs used in the management of conditions as diverse as osteoporosis and metastatic bone diseases. These drugs are widely administered and generally well tolerated by patients. In 2003, Marx et al. [1] first reported a nonhealing necrosis of the maxillofacial region in some patients taking BPs.

In the last decade researchers have discovered that BPs not exclusively cause osteonecrosis of jaws, as other drugs, such as antiresorptive (bone-targeted) agents like denosumab, but also were found to cause it. In addition, monoclonal antibodies able to bind and selectively inhibit VEGF-A, specifically mTOR inhibitors, can also cause osteonecrosis of the jaw [26].

For this reason, in 2014 the bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (BRONJ) nomenclature was changed by the position paper of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) special committee on Medication-Related Osteonecrosis of the Jaws (MRONJ) [7]. The term “medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaws” (MRONJ) refers to a complication associated with groups of medications, such as antiangiogenic or antiresorptive drugs [8]. These medications can have different indications depending on their mode of administration (Tables 1 and 2) [9, 10].


Pharmacologic active ingredient FormulationRoute of administrationIndication and frequency

Alendronic acid (sodium salt)Tab 70 mg
Tab 10 mg
POTreatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis (70 mg/week)
Treatment of osteoporosis in men (70 mg/week)
Treatment and prevention of osteoporosis induced by glucocorticoids (70 mg/week)

Alendronic acid + cholecalciferolTab 70 mg/5600 UIPOTreatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis in patients with unsupplemented vitamin D deficit (70 mg/week)

Ibandronic acid (monosodium salt monohydrate)Tab 50 mg
Btl 6 mg/6 ml
Tab 150 mg
Btl 3 mg/3 ml
PO
IV
PO
IV
Prevention of SREs in breast cancer patients with bone metastases (50 mg/day p.o. or 6 mg every 3–4 weeks iv.)
Treatment of hypercalcemia of malignancy
Treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis in patients at high risk of fracture (150 mg/4 weeks p.o. or 3 mg every 3 months iv.)

Neridronate acid
(sodium salt)
Btl 25 mg/2 ml
Btl 100 mg/8 ml
IV/IM.
IV
Osteogenesis imperfecta (2 mg/kg/3 months)
Paget’s bone disease (different schedules)

Pamidronic acid (disodium salt)Btl 15 mg/5 ml
Btl 30 mg/10 ml
Btl 60 mg/10 ml
Btl 90 mg/10 ml
IVPrevention of SREs in breast cancer patients with bone metastases or MM with bone lesions (60–90 mg every 3–4 weeks)
Treatment of hypercalcemia of malignancy

Zoledronic acid (monohydrate)Btl 4 mg/5 ml
Btl 5 mg/100 ml
IV
IV
Prevention of SREs in cancer patients with bone metastases or MM (4 mg every 3–4 weeks).
Treatment of hypercalcemia of malignancy
Treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, in men at increased risk of fracture, including those with a recent hip fracture from minor trauma (5 mg once per year)
Treatment of bone Paget’s disease

DenosumabBtl 120 mg
Btl 60 mg
SC
SC
Prevention of SREs in cancer patients with bone metastases (120 mg every 4 weeks)
Treatment of hypercalcemia of malignancy.
Osteoporosis (60 mg sc. every 6 months)


Pharmacologic active ingredient FormulationRoute of administrationIndication and frequency

BevacizumabBtl 400 mg
Btl 100 mg
IVMetastatic breast cancer (10 mg/kg every 2 weeks or 15 mg/kg every 3 weeks); colorectal cancer (5 mg/kg or 10 mg/kg every 2 weeks); lung/ovarian cancer (7.5 mg/kg or 15 mg/kg every 3 weeks); renal cell cancer (10 mg/kg every 2 weeks); glioblastoma (10 mg/kg every 2 weeks)

SunitinibTab 12.5 mgPORenal cell cancer, GISTs and neuroendocrine tumors (50 mg/day for 4 weeks)

SorafenibTab 200 mgPORenal cell cancer (800 mg/day)

PazopanibTab 200 mg
Tab 400 mg
PORenal cell cancer (200–800 mg/day)

ThalidomideTab 50 mgPOMyeloma (400 mg/day for 6 weeks)

LenalidomideTab 5, 10, 15 and 25 mgPOMyeloma (tailored doses)

EverolimusTab 5 and 10 mgPORenal cell cancer, breast cancer (10 mg every day)

TemsirolimusBtl 30 mgIVRenal cell cancer (25 mg every week)

According to AAOMS, MRONJ is defined as an exposition of necrotic bone in the oral cavity lasting more than 8 weeks, in patients who took antiresorptive or antiangiogenic drugs; these patients have not been exposed to head and neck radiotherapy, nor show signs of bone metastases in the maxillofacial region [7].

A number of systemic risk factors have been associated with increased likelihood of MRONJ; they are summarised in Table 3 [11, 12].


Risk Factor Strenght

Zoledronate vs Other Bisphosphonate+++

Intravenouse vs Oral Bisphosponate++

Bisphosphonate cumulative dose+++

Bisphosphonate duration of treatment+++

Anti-angiogenic drugs++

Denosumab++

Chemotherapy-/+

Thalilomide+/-

Dental extraction or other surgical procedures such as apicectomies or cystectomies have been found in between 52% and 80% of MRONJ patients’ medical history [1315].

During the last decade AAOMS has revised and proposed a clinical staging classification system of the disease in an attempt to guide clinicians and surgeons to an appropriate therapeutic approach (Table 4).


StageMRONJ clinical findings

At risk categoryNo apparent necrotic bone in patients who have been treated with either oral or IV bisphosphonates

Stage 0No clinical evidence of necrotic bone, but non-specific clinical findings, radiographic changes and symptoms

Stage IExposed and necrotic bone, or fistulae that probes to bone, in patients who are asymptomatic and have no evidence of infection

Stage IIExposed and necrotic bone, or fistulae that probes to bone, associated with infection as evidenced by pain and erythema in the region of the exposed bone with or without purulent drainage

Stage IIIExposed and necrotic bone or a fistula that probes to bone in patients with pain, infection, and one or more of the following: exposed and necrotic bone extending beyond the region of alveolar bone, (i.e., inferior border and ramus in the mandible, maxillary sinus and zygoma in the maxilla) resulting in pathologic fracture, extra-oral fistula, oral antral/oral nasal communication, or osteolysis extending to the inferior border of the mandible of sinus floor

The management of MRONJ is reported to be very challenging and with no current “gold standard”. Published studies have reported a number of approaches to treatment, with widely varying success rates, ranging from no or limited to radical surgery. The ideal outcome is total eradication of MRONJ along with an improvement of patients' quality of life through pain release and infection management [16].

Conservative treatment was considered to be partially successful, with resolution reported in only 50% of cases; particular concerns have been reported on MRONJ at clinical stages II and III [1719]. In case conservative treatments fail, surgical approaches like local debridement, osteoplasty, and segmental osteotomy are normally performed [20, 21].

However, patients that show evidence of MRONJ stage III with severe pain, infection, pathologic fracture, extra-oral fistula, or osteolysis extending to the inferior border of the mandible require an invasive type of surgery which might result in a disabling outcome [7, 16, 22].

The absence of a well-established surgical treatment protocol in scientific literature makes it difficult to conduct therapy in advanced cases of the disease.

Up to date, there is no standard treatment for MRONJ associated with antiresorptive and antiangiogenic therapies. Several treatment options have been described since MRONJ was first reported. Although the initial stages of MRONJ seem to respond quite well to conservative treatments or limited bone debridement if conservative treatment fails, the treatment for stage III lesions remains still controversial [23, 24].

The objective of this review is to evaluate the outcome of free vascularised osseous tissue transfer and/or osteofasciocutaneous free flap as treatment for patients affected by MRONJ stage III. Systematic reviews have been already published. However, these reviews were not performed in a standardised manner or did not follow strict criteria. Moreover the previous reviews did not consider antiangiogenic drugs in the search criteria. This has resulted in lack of quality assurance, summarised in Table 5 [2527]. This review aims to improve the quality of previous research and expand on the current data available.


Systematic Review Limitation

Sacco et al. (2011) [27]English literature limited search; Single Electronic database search.

Vercruysse et al. (2014) [25]Search Limited to BRONJ and or bisphosphonate related necrosis; No mentioning to language limitation; Review based on a single reviewer selection of articles

Neto et al. (2016) [26]Single Electronic database search; Search Limited to BRONJ and or bisphosphonate related necrosis; No mentioning to language limitation; No mentioning reviewer involved in the search strategy.

2. Materials and Methods

This systematic review was performed according to PRISMA guidelines [44].

The following the databases were used for the review: PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL). A three-stage screening approach was used to ensure precision and the quality of the search. The screening of titles and abstracts was carried out independently by three authors (AH, UH, and RS) to eliminate any irrelevant materials (i.e., reviews, animal studies, nonclinical studies, and studies that did not report on patients undergoing to free tissue graft). Disagreements were resolved by discussion.

A data screening and abstraction form was used to

(1) verify the study eligibility derived from the above inclusion/exclusion criteria,

(2) carry out the methodological quality assessment,

(3) extract data on study characteristics and outcomes for the included studies.

The authors of any studies eligible for inclusion in the review, yet without sufficient information, were contacted directly (Figure 1).

2.1. Criteria for Inclusion in This Review
2.1.1. Types of Studies

The types of studies included in the research strategy were published or unpublished randomised control trials, case-controlled trials, case series, retrospective studies, and case reports. Papers were obtained from January 2003 to June 2017. Animal studies and those including patients with previous history of radiation therapy to the head and neck regions were excluded. No language restrictions were imposed to the search.

2.1.2. Types of Participants

The review considered studies involving patients who developed MRONJ and subsequently underwent free vascularised osseous tissue transfer and/or osteofasciocutaneous free flap reconstruction. No restriction of age, gender, or ethnic origin was applied. There was no restriction on the minimum number of patients included in the studies.

2.1.3. Types of Interventions

Only free vascularised osseous tissue transfer and/or osteofasciocutaneous free flap reconstruction were considered.

2.1.4. Types of Outcome Measures

Primary Outcomes. Primary outcome measures of the review included the success rate of free flap without any restrictions in follow-up. The other considered measures were the frequency of MRONJ recurrence in the free flap or in the surgical residual jaw bone.

Secondary Outcomes. The secondary measures of the review entailed perioperative complications and those at follow-up, including the most common cause of the MRONJ and the time during which the patient was treated with the antiresorptive or antiangiogenic drugs prior ONJ.

2.2. Data Extracted

Data extracted from the eighteen studies included number of patients, patient sex, and age, predisposing factors for, and localisation of, MRONJ, type of antiangiogenic or antiresorptive drugs and their cumulative dose, clinical indications for the drug or combined therapy, extent of the surgical excision, type of free vascularised tissue reconstruction, free flap failure, immediate complications, follow-up time, and MRONJ recurrence.

All selected papers were carefully read to identify author(s), year of publication, study design, population and treatment characteristics, and number of patients with recurrent MRONJ.

In case of missing information, we contacted the authors and gave them 6 weeks to reply. If the information was still missing we then indicated the missing data as “Not Reported (NR)” in the text and in the tables.

3. Results

Results were expressed in descriptive statistics. No randomised controlled clinical trials or case-controlled studies comparing free flap reconstruction after resection in MRONJ patients were found. A total number of 18 articles we included in the study. All the published dates were described in case report (no. 6) and case series (no. 12) from 2008 to 2017 (Table 6). A total of 83 patients, 47 females (56.62%), 19 males (22.89%), and missing information for 20.49% (NR) of the cases, were treated using vascularised osseous tissue transfer and/or osteofasciocutaneous free flap reconstruction.


StudyType of studyPatients number

Engroff and Kim (2007) [28]Case series2

Ferrari et al. (2008) [29]Case Report1

Mücke et al. (2009) [30]Case series2

Nocini et al. (2009) [31]Case series7

Seth et al. (2010) [32]Case series11

Bedogni et al. (2011) [33]Case series3

Pautke et al. (2011) [34]Case report1

Bittner et al. (2012) [35]Case report1

Ghazali et al. (2013) [36]Case report1

Hanasono et al. (2013) [37]Case series11

Horta et al. (2014) [38]Case series1

Spinelli et al. (2014) [39]Case series8

Vercruysse et al. (2014) [25]Case series3

Kim et al. (2015) [40]Case series4

Mücke et al. (2016) [41]Case series14

Neto et al. (2016) [26]Case report1

Sotsuka et al. (2016) [42]Case report1

Caldroney et al. (2017) [43]Case Series11

The most common indications for antiresorptive or antiangiogenic treatment were breast cancer (28.91%), multiple myeloma (22.89%), osteoporosis (14.45%), prostate cancer (9.63%), lung cancer (2.40%), myeloid-leukemia and osteoporosis (1.20%), pain syndrome (1.20%), and NR in the 19.32% of the cases (Table 7). The most common site for MRONJ was the mandible 97.59% and 2.41% in the maxilla (Table 8).


StudyType of drugIndication for drug therapytime of drug exposure

Engroff and Kim (2007) [28]PMT (x 1 case)
ZOL (x 1 case)
Brest Cancer (x 2 cases)NR

Ferrari et al. (2008) [29]PMT + ZOLMultiple Myeloma21 mth (PMT)
3 mth (ZOL) discontinue therapy

Mücke et al. (2009) [30]ZOL (x 2 cases)Brest cancer (x 1 case);
Multiple Myeloma (x 1 case)
50mth (ZOL)
36 mth (ZOL)

Nocini et al. (2009) [31]PMT and ZOL (x 5 cases)
ZOL (x 2 cases)
Brest Cancer (x 5 cases);
Prostate Cancer (x 1 case);
Myeloid leukaemia and Osteoporosis (x 1 case)
NR

Seth et al. (2010) [32]ZOL (x 6 cases)
ALD (x 2 cases)
IBA (x 2 cases)
ETI (x 1 case)
Brest Cancer (x 5 cases);
Prostate Cancer (x 2 cases);
Multiple Myeloma (x 2 cases);
Osteoporosis (x 2 cases)
NR

Bedogni et al. (2011) [33]NRNRNR

Pautke et al. (2011) [34]ZOLProstate Cancer40 mth

Bittner et al. (2012) [35]ZOL and PMTPain syndrome12 mth (ZOL)
3 mth (PMT)

Ghazali et al. (2013) [36]ALDOsteoporosis84 mth (ALD)

Hanasono et al. (2013) [37]ZOL (x 9 cases)
PMT (x 2 cases)
Multiple Myeloma (x 5 cases);
Breast Cancer (x 2 cases);
Prostate Cancer (x 2 cases);
Osteoporosis (x 2 cases)
NR

Horta et al. (2014) [38]ZOLLung Cancer36 mth (ZOL)

Spinelli et al. (2014) [39]ZOL (x 3 cases)
PMT (x 3 cases)
ZOL and PMT (x 2 cases)
Multiple Myeloma (x 4 cases);
Brest Cancer (x 3 cases);
Prostate Cancer (x 1 case)
1 x 27 mth (ZOL)
1 x 21 mth (ZOL)
1 x 35 mth (ZOL
1 x 22 mth (PMT)
1 x 30 mth (PMT)
1 x 19 mth (PMT
1 x 25 mth (ZOL and PMT)
1 x 17 mth (ZOL and PMT)

Vercruysse et al. (2014) [25]1 x ZOL
1 x ZOL + PMT
1 x ZOL + CLO
Multiple Myeloma (x 2 case);
Brest Cancer (x 1 case)
1 x 22mth (ZOL)
1x 12 mth (PMT) + 26 mth (ZOL)
1x 96 mth (CLO) + 29mth (ZOL)

Kim et al. (2015) [40]ALD (x 2)
ALD + RSD + PMT (x 1)
ZOL + PMT (x 1)
Osteoporosis (x 3)
Multiple Myeloma (x 1)
1 x 48 mth (ALD)
1 x 120 mth (ALD
1 x 24 mth (ALD + RSD +PMT)
1 x 30mth (ZOL +PMT)

Mücke et al. (2016) [41]NRNRNR

Neto et al. (2016) [26]ZOLLung Cancer36 mth (ZOL)

Sotsuka et al (2016) [42]ZOLBrest Cancer59 mth (ZOL)

Caldroney et al. (2017) [43]7 x ZOL
2 x ALD
1 x ZOL + DZM
1 x PMT + DZM
Brest Cancer (x 4 cases)
Osteoporosi (x 3 cases)
Multiple Myeloma (x 3 cases)
Prostate Cancer (x 1 case)
NR


StudyType of studyPatients numberAge/SexTrigging causeSite of the necrosis involved

Engroff and Kim (2007) [28]Case series264 (F); 49 (F)Dental extraction (x 2 cases)Mandible (x 2 cases)

Ferrari et al. (2008) [29]Case report166 (M)NRMandible

Mücke et al. (2009) [30]Case series248 (F); 60 (F)Dental Extraction (x 1 case); Spontaneous (x 1 case)Mandible (x 2 cases)

Nocini et al. (2009) [31]Case series7NR (six F); (one M)Oral surgery (x 5 cases);
Infection (x 2 cases)
Mandible (x 7 cases)

Seth et al. (2010) [32]Case series1168 (M); 56 (F); 50 (F); 72 (F); 48 (F); 71 (F); 67 (F); 60 (F); 51 (F); 72 (M); 60 (F)NRMandible (x 11 cases)

Bedogni et al. (2011) [33]Case series3NRNRMandible (x 2 cases); Maxilla (x 1 case)

Pautke et al. (2011) [34]Case report176 (M)Dental extractionMandible

Bittner et al. (2012) [35]Case report141 (F)Dental extractionMandible

Ghazali et al. (2013) [36]Case report182 (F)Dental extractionMandible

Hanasono et al. (2013) [37]Case series1163 (F); 57 (M); 65 (M); 75 (F); 72 (M); 68 (M); 60 (F); 64 (F); 70 (F); 75 (F); 67 (F)NRMandible (x 11 cases)

Horta et al. (2014) [38]Case series154 MSpontaneousMandible

Spinelli et al. (2014) [39]Case series873 (M); 77 (F); 64 (F); 53 (F); 62 (M); 68 (F); 57 (M); 64 (F)Dental extraction (x 3 cases); Spontaneous x 5Mandible (x 8 cases)

Vercruysse et al. (2014) [25]Case series354 (F); 70 (F); 64 (F)Dental extraction (x 1 case); Spontaneous (x 2 cases)Mandible (x 3 cases)

Kim et al. (2015) [40]Case series469 (F), 68 (F), 62 (F), 70 (M)NRMandible (x 4)

Mücke et al. (2016) [41]Case series14NRNRMandible (x 14 cases)

Neto et al. (2016) [26]Case report158 (M)SpontaneousMandible

Sotsuka et al. (2016) [42]Case report150 (F)NRMaxilla

Caldroney et al. (2017) [43]Case series1156 (F); 65 (F); 60 (F); 61 (F); 65 (F); 64 (F); 68 (M); 67 (M); 73 (M); 72 (F); 73 (M).NRMandible (x 11 cases)

Zoledronate was responsible for the majority of the MRONJ with 42.16 %, then pamidronate 7.22%, alendronate 8.43%, ibandronate 2.40%, and etidronate 1.20%. A combination of the following drugs and the relative incidence percentage were also found responsible:

zoledronate and pamidronate (13.25%);

zoledronate and clodronate (1.20%);

zoledronate and denosumab (1.20%);

pamidronate and denosumab (1.20%);

alendronate, risedronate, and pamidronate (1.20%).

A total of 20.54% patients presented missing information with regard to the type of drug used.

69.90% of the cases missed information on the causes of the MRONJ.

The most commonly utilised vascularised free flap reconstruction was fibula free flap (81.92%), followed by iliac crest (12.04%) and scapula (6.02%).

The most frequent type of resection was subtotal (32.53%), followed by segmental (26.50%) and partial (2.40%). However a large percentage of missing data was found regarding the type of resection (NR 38.57%) (Table 9).


StudyType of surgeryType of free flapFlap failureImmediate post-operative complications

Engroff and Kim (2007) [28]2 x Segmental2 x FFF0Small Neck hematoma in one patient

Ferrari et al. (2008) [29]Sub-total1x FFF00

Mücke et al. (2009) [30]2 x Segmental1 x FFF; 1x ICFF00

Nocini et al. (2009) [31]7 x Subtotal7 x FFF0Rupture of mini-plate in one patient

Seth et al. (2010) [32]NR11 x FFF0Prolonged infection in one patient; Fistula and infection in three patients.

Bedogni et al. (2011) [33]NR3 x FFF1 (a year later)0

Pautke et al. (2011) [34]Segmental1 x ICFF0Fistula resolved with removal of plate

Bittner et al. (2012) [35]Segmental1 x SFF00

Ghazali et al. (2013) [36]Segmental1 x FFF0Sinus bradycardia

Hanasono et al. (2013) [37]6 x subtotal
5 x segmental
11 x FFF1Hematoma in one patient; Pneumonia in one patient; Deep vein thrombosis in one patient; Small bowel obstruction in one patient. All complications occurred in FFF

Horta et al. (2014) [38]1 x segmental1 x FFF00

Spinelli et al. (2014) [39]8 x subtotal8 x FFF00

Vercruysse et al. (2014) [25]2 x Partial; 1 x Segmental3 x ICFF1 (segmental- 16 days later)1 (failure)

Kim et al. (2015) [40]NR4 x FFF00

Mücke et al. (2016) [41]NR9 x FFF
5 x ICFF
NRNR

Neto et al. (2016) [26]1 x segmental1 x FFF00

Sotsuka et al. (2016) [42]NR1 x FFF00

Caldroney et al. (2017) [43]6 x segmental
5 x sub total
4 x SFF
7 x FFF
0Two cases with wound infection and dehiscence and one case the plate was removed. (3 different patients). One FFF and two SFF

The patients were followed for a period of time ranging from 2 weeks up to 99 months.

Radiographic imaging with CT, cone-beam, and/or orthopantomogram was obtained during follow-up in 95% of the cases.

At follow-up and after free flap reconstruction, recurrence of MRONJ (6.02%) was observed in 5 patients: two of the patients (2.40%) on the contralateral unresected part of the jaw, other two patients (2.40%) on the margin of the resection, and one patient (1.20%) on the grafted flap. The overall free flap failure rate registered was 3.61% (Table 10).


StudyFollow-up timeComplications during follow-up (included plate removal)MRONJ recurrenceSite of recurrence

Engroff and Kim (2007) [28]2x12 months0Recurrence in one patientContralateral

Ferrari et al. (2008) [29]1 x 12 monthsPlate removal00

Mücke et al. (2009) [30]2x 12 months000

Nocini et al. (2009) [31]1x 6 months
1 x 16 months
1 x 23 months
1 x 24 months
1 x 19 months
1 x 33 months
1 x 34 months
0Recurrence in one patientMargin of the resection

Seth et al. (2010) [32]1 x 10.0 months
1x 0.5 months
1x 30.8 months
1x 21.4 months
1x 17.8 months
1x 23.7 months
1x 10.6 months
1 x 14.2 months
1x 13.9 months
1x 12.2 months
1x 6.1 months
000

Bedogni et al. (2011) [33]NRfailure of the FFF 1 year later00

Pautke et al. (2011) [34]NRplate removalRecurrence in one patientOn the free flap

Bittner et al. (2012) [35]NR000

Ghazali et al. (2013) [36]24 months000

Hanasono et al. (2013) [37]1 x 13.3 months
1x 20.1 months
1x 77.0 months
1x 23.8 months
1x 11.4 months
1 x 9.1 months
1x 9.1 months
1x 9.1 months
1x 8.1 months
2 x 3.0 months
000

Horta et al. (2014) [38]1 x 12 months000

Spinelli et al. (2014) [39]1x 21.7 months
1x 25.1 months
1x 28.4 months
1x 32.2 months
1x 37 months
1x 28.4 months
1x 25.1 months
1x 32.9 months
000

Vercruysse et al. (2014) [25]1x 36 months
1x 65 months
1x 76 months
Plate removal in one patientRecurrence in one patientContralateral

Kim et al. (2015) [40]1 x 99 months
1 x 18 months
1 x 12 months
1 x 7 months
Fracture of plate in one patient00

Mücke et al. (2016) [41]34.25 ± 33.3 months-Recurrence in one of the patientMargin of the flap

Neto et al. (2016) [26]1 x 48 months000

Sotsuka et al. (2016) [42]NR000

Caldroney et al. (2017) [43]3 x 6 months
2 x 44 months
1 x 69 months
1 x 36 months
1 x 28 months
1 x 10 months
1 x 17 months
1 x 11 months
Plate removal in one patient00

3.1. Review Quality Assessment Data

All the studies and data extraction included in the systematic review were qualitative and the risk of bias assessed independently by the authors. The authors used the CARE Checklist for case report and the Modified Delphi Checklist for the case series studies.

In the six case report studies, we identified lack of clarity in many of the thirteen domains, with missing information. We found that the lack of clarity was predominantly on follow-up and diagnostic procedure at the time of follow-up. Hence we concluded the level of bias to be high for all the included case report studies.

In the twelve case series studies, we reported a consistent lack of clarity in some of the seven domains, predominantly regarding the outcome measurement methods. Moreover, we identified some missing information in few other domains; hence we considered the level of bias to be high for all studies

We contacted the authors of these clinical cases to clarify this bias; however we were unable to recover the missing information.

4. Discussion

Some antiresorptive drugs such as BP or denosumab have demonstrated to improve the quality of life in patients affected by bone metastasis, osteoporosis, osteopenia, and Paget disease. Additionally, a new antiangiogenic therapy has been successfully used for specific cancer treatments. However, this has remarkably increased the risk of developing MRONJ. This risk is greater in patients who require a higher administration dosage and an intake period greater than 2 years [14, 45, 46].

Moreover, literature has reported that demography, corticosteroid therapy, systemic factors, and genetic factors have been associated with MRONJ. A recent review report showed a wide-ranging MRONJ incidence from 0 to 27.5% in individuals exposed to intravenous BPs, with a mean incidence of 7%, whereas it ranges from 0.1% to 0.06% in oral administrations [4749].

Etiopathogenesis of MRONJ is not yet fully understood.

Although no gold standard is currently available for the treatment of jaw osteonecrosis, a number of studies debate which MRONJ stage benefits the most from surgical therapy [24, 50]. In general, for early stages of the disease (MRONJ 0 and I) conservative treatments might be sufficient; surgical treatment should be restricted to advanced stages (MRONJ II and III) or after failure of conservative treatments [7, 50].

The majority of researches as well as AAOMS consider conservative treatments as the treatment of choice of MRONJ.

However, there is not a robust evidence from clinical trials as treatment recommendations mostly come from expert opinions and are, therefore, characterised by a low level of evidence [24, 47].

The authors of the 2009 AAOMS position statement recommend reserving resection and immediate reconstruction to patients with stage III of the disease; however, positive outcomes have been noted in patients with stages II and III. Having said that no recommendations were given on which type of reconstruction was to be considered the most predictable [47]. The benefits of surgical management of MRONJ have been extensively debated in literature and radical surgery seems to offer more predictable and curative results. However, surgical treatment of early stages of MRONJ remains controversial [47, 5052].

Aggressive radical surgery is offered only to symptomatic patients with extensive osteonecrosis, including those who have previously failed conservative treatments [41].

This review has indicated that surgical therapy may represent a treatment option for patients affected by MRONJ stage III resulting in high success rates. Mucke et al. and Caldroney et al. have documented excellent outcomes in treating patient affected by MRONJ stage III in large cohort studies [30, 43]. Since 2008 microvascular reconstruction of the jaw has been documented as a viable option for MRONJ. This systematic review confirmed that microsurgical reconstruction therapy represents a feasible alternative in case of treatment escalation.

Even though the majority of papers included in this study were case reports and small case studies, the outcome of free flap treatment has been promising with a significant low recurrence of MRONJ and minimal surgical complications [25, 26, 2843].

The MRONJ recurrence rate found by this systematic review was 6.02% (5 patients). The predominant recurrence sites were the contralateral unresected part of the jaw (2 cases) and the margin of the resection (2 cases), both bearing an overall recurrence rate of 2.40%. Just one case of recurrence was found on the vascular reconstruction.

Infection was the most frequent complication found with 6.02% incidence. The overall free flap success rate was 96.39%. Three free flaps failed during a follow-up period ranging from 2 weeks up to 99 months.

Amongst all the types of reconstruction, free flap fibula was the most chosen, followed by iliac crest and scapula with success rates, respectively, of 97.60%, 98.80%, and 100%.

Antiresorptive drugs were explicitly discontinued in only three studies out of the eighteen, while no mention was reported in the remaining studies [31, 33, 41]. It is unclear if the discontinuation strategy leads to a better surgical outcome due to the long skeletal life of some antiresorptive drugs.

In line with the growing body of literature, our findings confirm positive results in treating patients with MRONJ using free flaps microvascular reconstruction. In order to obtain a possible resolution of MRONJ, patients with reasonable life expectancy should be considered for microvascular flap reconstruction after aggressive resection of the diseased bone.

5. Conclusion

MRONJ is a significant adverse effect amongst patients under antiresorptive agents. Although MRONJ pathogenesis remains unclear, significant progress has been made with respect to the diagnosis and staging of the disease, as well as with risk-reduction strategies and treatments. This systematic review based on multiple-reviewer quality assessment criteria was only able to select articles that meet Level 4 of the Oxford Evidence-based medicine scale. Due to the nature of the MRONJ incidence and the critical condition of the patients affected by the primary disease, it is difficult to improve the quality of evidence unless a common effort is applied. Therefore, the authors believe that additional quality studies, such as control multicentre studies or case-controlled studies, are necessary to support the hypothesis of this study.

Conflicts of Interest

This study was not supported by any company and all the authors have not conflicts of interest.

Authors’ Contributions

All the authors of this manuscript have substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; to the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; to draft of the paper and revising it critically and finally approved the version to be published.

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