Treatment of the atrophic edentulous maxilla: short implants versus bone augmentation for placing longer implants. Five-month post-loading results of a pilot randomised controlled trial.

Eur J Oral Implantol. 2011 Autumn;4(3):191-202.
Purpose: To evaluate whether short (5 to 8.5 mm) dental implants could be a suitable alternative to longer (>11.5 mm) implants placed in atrophic maxillae augmented with autogenous bone for supporting dental prostheses. Materials and methods: Twenty-eight patients with fully edentulous atrophic maxillae having 5 to 9 mm of residual crestal bone height at least 5 mm thick, as measured on computerised tomography scans, were randomised into two groups either to receive 4 to 8 short (5 to 8.5 mm) implants (15 patients) or autogenous bone from the iliac crest to allow the placement of at least 11.5 mmlong implants (13 patients). Bone blocks and the windows at maxillary sinuses were covered with rigid resorbable barriers. Grafts were left to heal for 4 months before placing implants, which were submerged. After 4 months, provisional reinforced acrylic prostheses or bar-retained overdentures were delivered. Provisional prostheses were replaced, after 4 months, by definitive screw-retained metal-resin cross-arch fixed dental prostheses. Outcome measures were: prosthesis and implant failures, any complications (including prolonged postoperative pain) and patient satisfaction. All patients were followed for 5 months after loading. Results: All patients could be rehabilitated with implant-supported prostheses and none dropped out. One bilateral sinus lift procedure failed due to infection, though short implants could be placed. One implant failed in the augmented group versus 2 short implants in 2 patients. All failures occurred before loading. Significantly more complications occurred in augmented patients: 8 complications occurred in 5 augmented patients (all complained of pain 1 month after bone harvesting from the iliac crest). No complications occurred in the short implant group. All patients were fully satisfied with the treatment and would do it again. Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that short implants may be a suitable, cheaper and faster alternative to longer implants placed in bone augmented with autogenous bone for rehabilitating edentulous atrophic maxillae. However, these preliminary results need to be confirmed by larger trials with follow-ups of at least 5 years.


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