The objective of the study was to prospectively assess the intraoperative findings and the radiographic signs of a study population of patients with impacted third molars at risk of inferior alveolar nerve injury.
One hundred thirty-four patients with impacted mandibular third molars at risk for nerve injury were included in the study. Radiographic signs of possible close relationship between the 2 structures and intraoperative exposition or damage of the inferior alveolar nerve were recorded. The follow-up controls comprised clinical examinations and assessment for the sensation of the lower lip and chin.
In 24 patients, a real contiguity was encountered between the third molars and nerve. Among these, intraoperative neural exposition was observed in 19 patients. Four patients complained of postoperative temporary hypoesthesia. No deficit of sensibility was found in cases with no exposition of the nerve.
The accidental exposition of the inferior alveolar nerve is associated with an increased risk for neural injuries. At panoramic radiograph, the presence of signs of bifid and radiolucent apex, superimposition, and radiolucent root band should be considered at high risk for neural damage.