With the growing demand for dental work, trigeminal nerve injuries are increasingly common. This retrospective cohort study examined 53 cases of iatrogenic trigeminal nerve injury seen at the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, University Hospitals of Leuven between 2013 and 2014 (0.6% among 8845 new patient visits). Patient records were screened for post-traumatic trigeminal nerve neuropathy caused by nerve injury incurred during implant surgery, endodontic treatment, local anaesthesia, tooth extraction, or specifically third molar removal. The patients ranged in age from 15 to 80years (mean age 42.1years) and 68% were female. The referral delay ranged from 1day to 6.5years (average 10months). The inferior alveolar nerve (IAN) was most frequently injured (28 cases), followed by the lingual nerve (LN) (21 cases). Most nerve injuries were caused during third molar removal (24 cases), followed by implant placement (nine cases) and local anaesthesia injuries (nine cases). Pain symptoms were experienced by 54% of patients suffering IAN injury, compared to 10% of patients with LN injury. Persistent neurosensory disturbances were identified in 60% of patients. While prevention remains the key issue, timely referral seems to be a critical factor for the successful treatment of post-traumatic neuropathy.
Keywords: iatrogenic; nerve damage; neuropathy; post-traumatic; trigeminal nerve.
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