Objectives: The aim of this comprehensive literature review is to provide recommendations and guidelines for dental implant therapy in patients with a history of radiation in the head and neck region. For the first time, a meta-analysis comparing the implant survival in irradiated and non-irradiated patients was performed.
Material and methods: An extensive electronic search in the electronic databases of the National Library of Medicine was conducted for articles published between January 1990 and January 2013 to identify literature presenting survival data on the topic of dental implants in patients receiving radiotherapy for head and neck cancer. Review and meta-analysis were performed according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses statement. For meta-analysis, only studies with a mean follow-up of at least 5 years were included.
Results: After screening 529 abstracts from the electronic database, we included 31 studies in qualitative and 8 in quantitative synthesis. The mean implant survival rate of all examined studies was 83 % (range, 34-100 %). Meta-analysis of the current literature (2007-2013) revealed no statistically significant difference in implant survival between non-irradiated native bone and irradiated native bone (odds ratio [OR], 1.44; confidence interval [CI], 0.67-3.1). In contrast, meta-analysis of the literature of the years 1990-2006 showed a significant difference in implant survival between non-irradiated and irradiated patients ([OR], 2.12; [CI], 1.69-2.65) with a higher implant survival in the non-irradiated bone. Meta-analysis of the implant survival regarding bone origin indicated a statistically significant higher implant survival in the irradiated native bone compared to the irradiated grafted bone ([OR], 1.82; [CI], 1.14-2.90).
Conclusions: Within the limits of this meta-analytic approach to the literature, this study describes for the first time a comparable implant survival in non-irradiated and irradiated native bone in the current literature. Grafted bone combined with radiotherapy was identified as a negative prognostic factor on implant survival.
Clinical relevance: The evolution of implant hardware and improvement of treatment strategies during the last years have affirmed dental implant-supported concepts as a valuable treatment option for patients with a history of radiation in the head and neck region.