Numb chin syndrome: A reflection of malignancy or a harbinger of MRONJ? A multicenter experience

J Stomatol Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2018 Nov;119(5):389-394. doi: 10.1016/j.jormas.2018.04.006. Epub 2018 Apr 20.


Introduction: Numb chin syndrome (NCS) or mental neuropathy (MN) is a disorder characterized by sensory neuropathy on the distribution of the inferior alveolar nerve or mental nerve. The most frequent causes are of odontogenic origin (infections, wrong therapies). Other etiologies are related to primary tumor, metastasis, osteoradionecrosis and medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (MRONJ). The aim of this study is to highlight the clinical importance of NCS as one of the first symptoms of cancer or as consequence of drug therapy.

Materials and methods: The present study was conducted from 2010 to 2016 by recruiting patients who present NCS as one of the symptoms, having excluded those in which it depends on a clear odontogenic cause, on systemic degenerative diseases or metabolic disorders. Data collection included suspected diagnosis at the time of presentation of the symptom, final diagnosis, mandibular localization, treatment performed and diagnostic delay between the first medical examination and the definitive diagnosis.

Results: This study included 29 patients in which NCS had not a clear odontogenic cause. NCS was the first symptom of malignancy in 11 cases and the clinical sign of metastasis in 4 cases. In a single patient, it was the first symptom of an immune-mediated disease. In the remaining 13 patients, NCS represented the symptom of MRONJ.

Conclusion: NCS can be the first symptom of malignancy, especially in patients with a previous history of cancer, but also a prodromal sign of MRONJ. It should be recognized in order to require deeper examinations for early diagnosis of the disease.

Keywords: Cancer; Chin numbness; MRONJ; Mandibular metastasis; Mental neuropathy; Numb chin syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Chin
  • Delayed Diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Hypesthesia*
  • Mandibular Nerve
  • Neoplasms*