Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of real implant-bed-specific radiation doses on peri-implant tissue health in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients after radiotherapy.
Material and methods: Specific radiation doses in the area of 81 implants, in 15 irradiated HNC patients, were analyzed by matching data from the radiotherapy planning system with those of three-dimensional follow-up scans after implantation. Peri-implant bone resorption was measured radiographically after 1 and 3 years, and peri-implant tissue health was evaluated clinically. Individual parameters, such as age, gender, and localization, regarding the implant-specific radiation dose distribution were analyzed statistically.
Results: The mean implant-bed-specific radiation dose was high, with 45.95 Gy to the mandible and 29.02 Gy to the maxilla, but significantly lower than the mean total dose to the tumor bed. Peri-implant bone resorption correlated with local inflammation and plaque. After 1 year, women temporarily showed significantly more bone loss than men and implant-specific radiation dose had a significant impact on peri-implant bone loss after 3 years.
Conclusions: The presented method is a feasible option to define precise implant-bed-specific radiation doses for research or treatment planning purposes. Implant-based dental restoration after radiotherapy is a relatively safe procedure, but a negative radiation dose-dependent long-term effect on peri-implant bone resorption calls for interdisciplinary cooperation between surgeons and radio-oncologists to define high-risk areas.