Bisphosphonate and medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaw: A review

Thomas Mücke, Christian R. Krestan, David A. Mitchell, Jan S. Kirschke, Arno Wutzl

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


For patients with malignant disease taking bisphosphonates and denosumab, the incidence of medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaw (MRONJ) is up to 15% in contrast to 0.01% in patients with osteoporosis. Clinical presentation of MRONJ extends from asymptomatic exposure of bone in 94% of patients to severe cases of mandibular fractures in a minority of 4.5%. The strongest risk factors for MRONJ are invasive dental procedures and dental infections. Advances in imaging provide more preoperation information compared with panoramic radiograph. Prevention strategies are the elimination of potential risk factors leading to invasive dental procedures and maintenance of good oral hygiene prior to the administration of antiresorptive agents. Management of MRONJ depends on the underlying disease, extent of the necrosis, and the presence of contributing therapy. Conservative therapies include topical anti-infective rinses and systemic antibiotic therapy. The most important part of surgical therapy is to remove the exposed and necrotic bone. Several options for defect closure are possible from local tissue flaps to microvascular free flap procedures. The development of MRONJ in conjunction with dental implants is a severe side effect and should be avoided if potentially harmful medication has already been administered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-314
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Musculoskeletal Radiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • bisphosphonates
  • computed tomography
  • denosumab
  • dental radiographs
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • osteonecrosis of the jaw
  • osteoporosis


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