Endodontic procedures for retreatment of periapical lesions

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Oct 19;10(10):CD005511. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005511.pub3.


Background: When primary root canal therapy fails, periapical lesions can be retreated with or without surgery. Root canal retreatment is a non-surgical procedure that involves removal of root canal filling materials from the tooth, followed by cleaning, shaping and obturating of the canals. Root-end resection is a surgical procedure that involves exposure of the periapical lesion through an osteotomy, surgical removal of the lesion, removal of part of the root-end tip, disinfection and, commonly, retrograde sealing or filling of the apical portion of the remaining root canal. This review updates one published in 2008.

Objectives: To assess effects of surgical and non-surgical therapy for retreatment of teeth with apical periodontitis.To assess effects of surgical root-end resection under various conditions, for example, when different materials, devices or techniques are used.

Search methods: We searched the following electronic databases: the Cochrane Oral Health Trials Register (to 10 February 2016), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2016, Issue 1), MEDLINE Ovid (1946 to 10 February 2016) and Embase Ovid (1980 to 10 February 2016). We searched the US National Registry of Clinical Trials (ClinicalTrials.gov) and the World Health Organization (WHO) International Clinical Trials Registry Platform for ongoing trials (to 10 February 2016). We placed no restrictions regarding language and publication date. We handsearched the reference lists of the studies retrieved and key journals in the field of endodontics.

Selection criteria: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) involving people with periapical pathosis. Studies could compare surgery versus non-surgical treatment or could compare different types of surgery. Outcome measures were healing of the periapical lesion assessed after one-year follow-up or longer; postoperative pain and discomfort; and adverse effects such as tooth loss, mobility, soft tissue recession, abscess, infection, neurological damage or loss of root sealing material evaluated through radiographs.

Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently extracted data from included studies and assessed their risk of bias. We contacted study authors to obtain missing information. We combined results of trials assessing comparable outcomes using the fixed-effect model, with risk ratios (RRs) for dichotomous outcomes and mean differences (MDs) for continuous outcomes, and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). We used generic inverse variance for split-mouth studies.

Main results: We included 20 RCTs. Two trials at high risk of bias assessed surgery versus a non-surgical approach: root-end resection with root-end filling versus root canal retreatment. The other 18 trials evaluated different surgical protocols: cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) versus periapical radiography for preoperative assessment (one study at high risk of bias); antibiotic prophylaxis versus placebo (one study at unclear risk); different magnification devices (loupes, surgical microscope, endoscope) (two studies at high risk); types of incision (papilla base incision, sulcular incision) (one study at high risk and one at unclear risk); ultrasonic devices versus handpiece burs (one study at high risk); types of root-end filling material (glass ionomer cement, amalgam, intermediate restorative material (IRM), mineral trioxide aggregate (MTA), gutta-percha (GP), super-ethoxy benzoic acid (EBA)) (five studies at high risk of bias, one at unclear risk and one at low risk); grafting versus no grafting (three studies at high risk and one at unclear risk); and low energy level laser therapy versus placebo (irradiation without laser activation) versus control (no use of the laser device) (one study at high risk).There was no clear evidence of superiority of the surgical or non-surgical approach for healing at one-year follow-up (RR 1.15, 95% CI 0.97 to 1.35; two RCTs, 126 participants) or at four- or 10-year follow-up (one RCT, 82 to 95 participants), although the evidence is very low quality. More participants in the surgically treated group reported pain in the first week after treatment (RR 3.34, 95% CI 2.05 to 5.43; one RCT, 87 participants; low quality evidence).In terms of surgical protocols, there was some inconclusive evidence that ultrasonic devices for root-end preparation may improve healing one year after retreatment, when compared with the traditional bur (RR 1.14, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.30; one RCT, 290 participants; low quality evidence).There was evidence of better healing when root-ends were filled with MTA than when they were treated by smoothing of orthograde GP root filling, after one-year follow-up (RR 1.60, 95% CI 1.14 to 2.24; one RCT, 46 participants; low quality evidence).There was no evidence that using CBCT rather than radiography for preoperative evaluation was advantageous for healing (RR 1.02, 95% CI 0.70 to 1.47; one RCT, 39 participants; very low quality evidence), nor that any magnification device affected healing more than any other (loupes versus endoscope at one year: RR 1.05, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.20; microscope versus endoscope at two years: RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.89 to 1.15; one RCT, 70 participants, low quality evidence).There was no evidence that antibiotic prophylaxis reduced incidence of postoperative infection (RR 0.49, 95% CI 0.09 to 2.64; one RCT, 250 participants; low quality evidence).There was some evidence that using a papilla base incision (PBI) may be beneficial for preservation of the interdental papilla compared with complete papilla mobilisation (one RCT (split-mouth), 12 participants/24 sites; very low quality evidence). There was no evidence of less pain in the PBI group at day 1 post surgery (one RCT, 38 participants; very low quality evidence).There was evidence that adjunctive use of a gel of plasma rich in growth factors reduced postoperative pain compared with no grafting (measured on visual analogue scale: one day postoperative MD -51.60 mm, 95% CI -63.43 to -39.77; one RCT, 36 participants; low quality evidence).There was no evidence that use of low energy level laser therapy (LLLT) prevented postoperative pain (very low quality evidence).

Authors' conclusions: Available evidence does not provide clinicians with reliable guidelines for treating periapical lesions. Further research is necessary to understand the effects of surgical versus non-surgical approaches, and to determine which surgical procedures provide the best results for periapical lesion healing and postoperative quality of life. Future studies should use standardised techniques and success criteria, precisely defined outcomes and the participant as the unit of analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Periapical Periodontitis / surgery
  • Periapical Periodontitis / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Retreatment
  • Root Canal Therapy / methods*