Postsurgical volumetric airway changes in 2-jaw orthognathic surgery patients

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Findings from early cephalometric studies on airway changes after 2-jaw orthognathic surgery have been challenged because the previous anteroposterior interpretation of airway changes can now be evaluated in 3 dimensions. The aims of this study were to use cone-beam computed tomography to quantify the nasopharynx, oropharynx, and total airway volume changes associated with skeletal movements of the maxilla and mandible in a sample of patients undergoing 2-jaw orthognathic surgery for correction of skeletal malocclusion.


Skeletal movements and airway volumes of 71 postpubertal patients (31 male, 40 female; mean age, 18.8 years) were measured. They were divided into 2 groups based on ANB angle, overjet, and occlusion (Class II: ANB, >2°; overjet, >1 mm; total, 35 subjects; and Class III: ANB, <1°; overjet, <1 mm; total, 36 subjects). Presurgical and postsurgical measurements were collected for horizontal, vertical, and transverse movements of the maxilla and the mandible, along with changes in the nasopharynx, oropharynx, and total airways. Associations between the directional movements of skeletal structures and the regional changes in airway volume were quantified. Changes in the most constricted area were also noted.


Horizontal movements of D-point were significantly associated with increases in both total airway (403.6 ± 138.6 mm3; P <0.01) and oropharynx (383.9 ± 127.9 mm3; P <0.01) volumes. Vertical movements of the posterior nasal spine were significantly associated with decreases in total airway volume (−459.2 ± 219.9 mm3; P = 0.04) and oropharynx volume (−639.7 ± 195.3 mm3; P <0.01), increases in nasopharynx (187.2 ± 47.1 mm3; P <0.01) volume, and decreases in the most constricted area (−10.63 ± 3.69 mm2; P <0.01). In the Class III patients only, the vertical movement of D-point was significantly associated with decreases in both total airway (−724.0 ± 284.4 mm3; P = 0.02) and oropharynx (−648.2 ± 270.4 mm3; P = 0.02) volumes. A similar negative association was observed for the most constricted area for the vertical movement of D-point (−15.45 ± 4.91 mm2; P <0.01).


Optimal control of airway volume is through management of the mandible in the horizontal direction and the vertical movement of the posterior maxilla for all patients. The surgeon and the orthodontist should optimally plan these movements to control gains or losses in airway volume as a result of orthognathic surgery.

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