Short implants (≤6 mm) versus longer implants with sinus floor elevation in atrophic posterior maxilla: a systematic review and meta-analysis

BMJ Open. 2019 Oct 28;9(10):e029826. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-029826.


Objectives: To compare the use of short implants (≤6 mm) in atrophic posterior maxilla versus longer implants (≥10 mm) with sinus floor elevation.

Design: A systematic review and meta-analysis based on randomised controlled trials (RCTs).

Data sources: Electronic searches were conducted in PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane CENTRAL. Retrospective and prospective hand searches were also performed.

Eligibility criteria: RCTs comparing short implants (≤6 mm) and longer implants (≥10 mm) with sinus floor elevation were included. Outcome measures included implant survival (primary outcome), marginal bone loss (MBL), complications and patient satisfaction.

Data extraction and synthesis: Risks of bias in and across studies were evaluated. Meta-analysis, subgroup analysis and sensitivity analysis were undertaken. Quality of evidence was assessed according to Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation.

Results: A total of seven RCTs involving 310 participants were included. No significant difference in survival rate was found for 1-3 years follow-up (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.97 to 1.04, p=0.74, I²=0%, moderate-quality evidence) or for 3 years or longer follow-up (RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.97 to 1.04, p=0.79, I²=0%, moderate-quality evidence). However, short implants (≤6 mm) showed significantly less MBL in 1-3 years follow-up (MD=-0.13 mm, 95% CI -0.21 to 0.05; p=0.001, I²=87%, low-quality evidence) and in 3 years or longer follow-up (MD=-0.25 mm, 95% CI -0.40 to 0.10; p=0.001, I²=0%, moderate-quality evidence). In addition, short implant (≤6 mm) resulted in fewer postsurgery reaction (RR 0.11, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.31, p<0.001, I²=40%, moderate-quality evidence) and sinus perforation or infection (RR 0.11, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.63, p=0.01, I²=0%, moderate-quality evidence).

Conclusions: For atrophic posterior maxilla, short implants (≤6 mm) are a promising alternative to sinus floor elevation, with comparable survival rate, less MBL and postsurgery reactions. Additional high-quality studies are needed to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of short implants (≤6 mm).

Trial registeration number: The protocol has been registered at PROSPERO (CRD42018103531).

Keywords: short dental implant; sinus floor augmentation; systematic review.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy
  • Dental Implantation*
  • Dental Implants*
  • Dental Prosthesis Design*
  • Humans
  • Jaw, Edentulous, Partially / surgery*
  • Maxilla / pathology
  • Maxilla / surgery*
  • Sinus Floor Augmentation / methods*


  • Dental Implants