Periapical lesions are not always a sequelae of pulpal necrosis: a retrospective study of 1521 biopsies

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To record the incidence of lesions that were not the sequelae of pulpal necrosis (non-SPN) amongst 1521 biopsies of periapical lesions submitted with a clinical diagnosis of a sequelae of pulpal necrosis (SPN).


A retrospective study of 1521 biopsy request forms of specimens submitted for histopathological examination with a clinical diagnosis ‘periapical inflammation’, ‘periapical abscess’, ‘periapical granuloma’ or ‘periapical cyst’ during an arbitrarily selected 14-year period was undertaken. Gender and age of the patient, site and maximum diameter of the lesion, symptoms, inclusion of the final diagnosis in the differential diagnosis and specialty of the clinician submitting the biopsy material were recorded in each case. The final diagnosis for each case was extracted from the pathology report, and two groups were formed, SPN and non-SPN lesions. Differences between the respective features of SPN and non-SPN cases were analysed with Yate's chi-square test and t-test (significance level P < 0.05)


In 52 of the 1521 cases examined (3.42%), the histological diagnosis was not consistent with a SPN. In most non-SPN cases, the histopathological diagnosis was not included in the differential diagnosis. The keratocystic odontogenic tumour [odontogenic keratocyst (OKC)] was the most frequent non-SPN lesion (34.62%). Other, yet less frequent, non-SPN lesions included glandular odontogenic cysts, lateral periodontal cysts, central ossifying fibromas as well as malignancies (metastatic carcinomas and Langerhans cell histiocytosis).


Non-SPN lesions appeared in the periapical region mimicking a SPN, although rarely. Most of them were developmental cysts, in particular OKCs, but odontogenic tumours, such as ameloblastoma, or malignant lesions were also diagnosed. Histological examination of tissue harvested from periapical lesions should be performed, in particular when those lesions are large.

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