Does a difference exist in inferior alveolar canal displacement caused by commonly encountered pathologic entities? An observational study

J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2011 Jul;69(7):1944-51. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2010.12.016. Epub 2011 Mar 21.


Purpose: The aim of the present study was to investigate whether a difference exists in the location of the displaced inferior alveolar canal (IAC) and neurovascular bundle (toward the buccal or lingual cortex) among odontogenic tumors and vascular lesions. If some consistency exists in the manner in which the canal and bundle are displaced on radiographic examination, the nature of the mandibular lesion under examination could be anticipated. This information would assist the surgical team in treatment planning, diagnostic biopsy, and resection, especially in cases of intraosseous vascular pathologic findings.

Materials and methods: A retrospective review of the computed tomography images obtained for odontogenic tumors and vascular anomalies treated at the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, University of Illinois at Chicago, from January 2000 to June 2010 was undertaken. The IAC and neurovascular bundle were traced from the lingula to the mental foramina, and its location within the mandible was recorded at 3 specific points.

Results: In the odontogenic tumor group, we found that the canal with the neurovascular bundle was displaced either toward the buccal cortex of the mandible or the inferior border, but it was never identified lingually. In contrast, all the vascular anomalies had displaced the structures toward the lingual aspect of the mandible at all selected points.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study to have examined the potential differences in the displacement of the inferior alveolar neurovascular bundle caused by the 2 commonly encountered pathologic entities in the maxillofacial skeleton: odontogenic tumors and vascular anomalies. We identified a striking difference in the manner of the IAC and its contents that was consistent among the tumors in the 2 groups. The location of the IAC in relationship to the pathologic entity under investigation could prove valuable in the differential diagnosis and assist with planning the biopsy. Additional investigation with a larger number of cases of these 2 groups of lesions involving the mandible is warranted to confirm our preliminary findings.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ameloblastoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone Cysts, Aneurysmal / diagnostic imaging
  • Child
  • Female
  • Granuloma, Giant Cell / diagnostic imaging
  • Hemangioma / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Jaw Cysts / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Mandible / blood supply
  • Mandible / diagnostic imaging
  • Mandible / innervation*
  • Mandibular Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Mandibular Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Mandibular Nerve / diagnostic imaging*
  • Middle Aged
  • Odontogenic Tumors / diagnostic imaging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Vascular Malformations / diagnostic imaging
  • Young Adult