An in vitro comparison between a new ultrasound-based piezoelectric device and a conventional bur was performed for lateralization or transposition of the inferior alveolar nerve to evaluate the effects on soft and hard tissue. Transposition of the inferior alveolar nerve was performed in the cadaver mandibles of 10 sheep: the left nerve was uncovered with a saline-cooled diamond-coated spherical bur (2000 rpm), and the right nerve was uncovered with the piezoelectric device mounted with a spherical diamond tip. The surface, the zone of bone defect, and the nerve were examined by light microscopy and laser microscopy. Bone treated with the rotary bur showed significantly smoother surfaces and shallower defect zones (50 microm) in comparison with the piezoelectric device (150 microm). Lesions of the epineurium and an increased amount of bone particles were found in the lesions prepared with the piezoelectric device. In vitro preparation with the piezoelectric device was more invasive to the bone than was a conventional diamond bur. Touching the inferior alveolar nerve resulted in roughening of the epineurium without affecting deeper structures. The degree of injury was lower than when using the conventional rotary bur.