The effectiveness of surgical management of oroantral communications: a systematic review of the literature

Eur J Oral Implantol. 2014 Winter;7(4):347-57.


Background: An oroantral communication (OAC) is a common complication in alveolar surgery that usually occurs as a result of the extraction of maxillary posterior teeth. To avoid further complications, several closure techniques are used; most of them need a flap elevation. Recently, simpler conservative flapless techniques for OAC closure have been described.

Objectives: To appraise the effectiveness of different techniques for closure of OACs also in comparison to nothing.

Search methods: The following electronic databases were searched for randomised controlled trials regarding techniques for closure of OACs: PubMed; SciVerse Scopus; Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences; The Scientific Electronic Library Online and The Cochrane Library (from January 1949 to August 2014). Unspecific algorithms were chosen in order to maximise search sensibility. Additional manual searching was performed in PubMed related citations, in five journals and in the references of the selected articles. There were no restrictions with regard to publication language.

Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing techniques for closing oroantral communications to nothing, or different techniques for closing oroantral communications reporting the success rate with at least two months follow-up.

Data collection and analysis: The screening of eligible studies, the assessment of methodological quality and data extraction were done by two independent reviewers working in duplicate.

Results: The research individuated 1256 publications. After screening, only five articles were assessed for eligibility. Only two RCTs evaluating the effectiveness of techniques for OAC closure fulfilled the inclusion criteria of the present review. One trial including 30 patients assessed whether flapless techniques (resorbable root analogues and haemostatic gauze) could be as effective as the Rehrmann's buccal flap; all the patients were reported as successfully healed in the three intervention groups. Another RCT with 20 patients compared the effectiveness of the buccal fat pad flap (100% success rate) with a sandwich graft with hydroxyapatite crystals within collagen sheaths (90% success rate). The authors found no significant difference.

Conclusions: There are no RCTs evaluating whether an oroantral communication should be closed or not. There is weak evidence from two RCTs showing good results with five different techniques for closure of OACs (resorbable root analogues, haemostatic gauze, Rehrmann's buccal flap, buccal fat pad flap, sandwich graft with hydroxyapatite crystals). Until sufficiently high quality RCTs are conducted, elevating or not a flap for closure of OACs will be left to the personal choice of the surgeon.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / transplantation
  • Bone Substitutes / therapeutic use
  • Collagen / therapeutic use
  • Durapatite / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Oral Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Oroantral Fistula / surgery*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Surgical Flaps / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bone Substitutes
  • Collagen
  • Durapatite