Objective: To identify the available evidence on the effects of rapid maxillary expansion (RME) with three-dimensional imaging and provide meta-analytic data from studies assessing the outcomes using computed tomography.
Methods: Eleven electronic databases were searched, and prospective case series were selected. Two authors screened all titles and abstracts and assessed full texts of the remaining articles. Seventeen case series were included in the quantitative synthesis. Seven outcomes were investigated: nasal cavity width, maxillary basal bone width, alveolar buccal crest width, alveolar palatal crest width, inter-molar crown width, inter-molar root apex width, and buccopalatal molar inclination. The outcomes were investigated at two-time points: postexpansion (2-6 weeks) and post-retention (4-8 months). Mean differences and 95% confidence intervals were used to summarize and combine the data.
Results: All the investigated outcomes showed significant differences postexpansion (maxillary basal bone width, +2.46 mm; nasal cavity width, +1.95 mm; alveolar buccal crest width, +3.90 mm; alveolar palatal crest width, +3.09 mm; intermolar crown width, +5.69 mm; inter-molar root apex width, +2.85 mm; and dental tipping, +3.75°) and post-retention (maxillary basal bone width, +2.21 mm; nasal cavity width, +1.55 mm; alveolar buccal crest width, +3.57 mm; alveolar palatal crest width, +3.32 mm; inter-molar crown width, +5.43 mm; inter-molar root apex width, +4.75 mm; and dental tipping, 2.22°) compared to pre-expansion.
Conclusions: After RME, skeletal expansion of the nasomaxillary complex was greater in most caudal structures. Maxillary basal bone showed 10% post-retention relapse. During retention period, uprighting of maxillary molars occurred.
Keywords: Computed tomography; Meta-analysis; Rapid maxillary expansion; Systematic review.