Dental extraction, intensity-modulated radiotherapy of head and neck cancer, and osteoradionecrosis : A systematic review and meta-analysis

Strahlenther Onkol. 2022 Mar;198(3):219-228. doi: 10.1007/s00066-021-01896-w. Epub 2022 Jan 14.


Objective: To seek evidence for osteoradionecrosis (ORN) after dental extractions before or after intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) for head and neck cancer (HNC).

Methods: Medline/PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library were searched from 2000 until 2020. Articles on HNC patients treated with IMRT and dental extractions were analyzed by two independent reviewers. The risk ratios (RR) and odds ratios (OR) for ORN related to extractions were calculated using Fisher's exact test. A one-sample proportion test was used to assess the proportion of pre- versus post-IMRT extractions. Forest plots were used for the pooled RR and OR using a random-effects model.

Results: Seven of 630 publications with 875 patients were eligible. A total of 437 (49.9%) patients were treated with extractions before and 92 (10.5%) after IMRT. 28 (3.2%) suffered from ORN after IMRT. ORN was associated with extractions in 15 (53.6%) patients, eight related to extractions prior to and seven cases related to extractions after IMRT. The risk and odds for ORN favored pre-IMRT extractions (RR = 0.18, 95% CI: 0.04-0.74, p = 0.031, I2 = 0%, OR = 0.16, 95% CI: 0.03-0.99, p = 0.049, I2 = 0%). However, the prediction interval of the expected range of 95% of true effects included 1 for RR and OR.

Conclusion: Tooth extraction before IMRT is more common than after IMRT, but dental extractions before compared to extractions after IMRT have not been proven to reduce the incidence of ORN. Extractions of teeth before IMRT have to be balanced with any potential delay in initiating cancer therapy.

Keywords: Dental care; Dental management; Oropharyngeal cancer; Osteoradionecrosis prevention; Radiation toxicity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Osteoradionecrosis* / epidemiology
  • Osteoradionecrosis* / etiology
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated* / adverse effects
  • Tooth Extraction / adverse effects