Open Access
J Oral Med Oral Surg
Volume 26, Number 2, 2020
Article Number 12
Number of page(s) 5
Section Cas clinique et revue de la littérature / Up-to date review and case report
Published online 01 April 2020

© The authors, 2020

Licence Creative CommonsThis is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Zygomatic implants (ZI) have been used for several years as part of the prosthodontic rehabilitation in patients with maxillary atrophy. The technique was introduced in 1998 by Branemark to provide retention and stability for conventional removable dentures and has progressed to reconcile prosthodontic goals with anatomic reality. These specific implants allow an anchorage distally from the maxilla and the literature shows a success rate similar to conventional osseointegrated implants [1,2].

Their indications were thus extended for the rehabilitation of maxillectomy using zygomatic implant to stabilize obturator prosthesis is well described in the literature [36]. This article aims to report the case of a young, physically challenged hemimaxillectomy patient treated with zygomatic implants and obturator prosthesis and review the available data.


A 24 year-old male patient suffering from a triple A syndrome was referred to the oral and maxillofacial surgery department to close an oroantral fistula and propose a prosthetic rehabilitation of the missing teeth. The patient also presented with dysphagia caused by achalasia (treated by 2 esophageal dilatations in 2008 and 2011), a motor and sensory neuropathy of the upper limb, an adrenal insufficiency (substituted by hydrocortisone since he was 4 years old) and alacrima. Because of his neuropathy, the patient had problems in everyday routine tasks, especially as he underwent a vertebral arthrodesis related to a severe scoliosis in 2010. A low grade squamous cell carcinoma was removed from the left maxilla in 2008; no adjuvant therapy was proposed. Surgery resulted in a left maxillary defect type IIb of the Brown's classification and an oraoantral communication. The patient was rapidly rehabilitated with conventional obturator prosthesis during 8 years but the instability of his prosthesis led the patient to consider other options. A free flap to close the defect was proposed but the patient declined. An alternative solution was proposed, as a closure of the defect with a rotation flap and placement of zygomatic implants. Surgery was performed under general anaesthesia, after a surgical planning using the Nobelclinician® software. After bone exposition, we use a surgical stent to place two zygomatic implants using extra sinusal technique. We used 45° angulated implant with a diameter of 3.9 mm and 47.5/35 mm length (in position of tooth no. 23 and tooth no. 25, respectively) (Fig. 1). The buccal fat pad was used to isolate the implants from the oral and nasal cavities and to prevent from the dehiscence of peri implant soft tissues, which could cause implant exposure and reduce their longevity.

Per- and postoperative medication consisted of antibiotics (amoxicillin 1g + clavulanic acid 125 mg started the morning of the surgery day), 3 times per day, during 10 days and analgesics (tramadol 50 mg). Postoperative recovery was uneventful.

After the completion of the 3 months healing period, the clinical stability and osseointegration of the implants was good but a persistent small oroantral fistula was observed (Fig. 2). As the patient presented with a good contralateral toothing despite a slight misalignment and a poor oral hygiene, the rehabilitation consisted in a bar-retained obturator prosthesis (Fig. 3). A secondary closure of the remaining fistula was proposed but the patient refused, as he was satisfied with his obturator prosthesis which he wore 12 to 18 hours per day. The patient's satisfaction was good in terms of function and esthetics and he reported a major improvement of his chewing ability (Fig. 4).

Clinical and radiological controls were performed every 3 months during one year and then twice a year. Global follow up was 2 years.

thumbnail Fig. 1

Pre operative situation. (a) Maxillary defect, (b) implant planification (Nobelclinician® software), (c) intrabuccal view of the fistula.

thumbnail Fig. 2

Surgical phase. (a) Intrabuccal view of the fistula (b) flap closure with buccal fat pad.

thumbnail Fig. 3

Prosthesis. (a) Transversal view of retention bar, (b) frontal view of retention bar, (c) intraoral view with prosthesis.

thumbnail Fig. 4

Quality of life questionnaire based on El Sayed publication [11].


The patient suffered from a triple A syndrome, an autosomal multisystemic disease, which render complete overview of the patient's abilities mandatory before choosing a therapeutic solution.

Surgical steps for ZI placement are quite different from conventional implant placement, especially in case of maxillectomy patients, as the only anchorage is in the zygoma and thus results in a long lever arm. Thus, surgical planning is mandatory as no anatomical mark persists (no remaining maxilla alveolar crest). The zygoma has to be surgically exposed. The drilling sequence consists of a round bur, and 2.9 mm, 3.5 mm and a final drill of 3.5 mm of diameter. The implants are then placed, following the planning. A fat pad is preferable to prevent the contact between the implants and nasal mucosa or oral cavity, avoiding the risk of implant exposure and loss due to the dehiscence of peri implant soft tissues. Implant loading could be immediate or delayed according to the primary stability of the implants. Because of the lack of information regarding the loading of zygoma implant stabilized prosthesis we chose the second solution.

The ideal emergence of ZI is on the lateral incisor for the mesial ZI and the second premolar for the distal ZI. This placement allows a better repartition of occlusal stress, but is not always possible in case of maxillectomy patients; in this case, anatomical constraints did not allow this placement and the mesial implant had to be placed more posterior.

Initial goal of the surgery was to close the oronasal communication but the flap didn't allow it completely. The closure of the communication, using a vascularized free flap and implant supported prosthesis was proposed secondarily to the patient but he refused this complex surgery in which serious complications or rehabilitation failure may occur [710]. He was very satisfied with his ZI stabilized obturator whose aesthetic aspect was considered as very satisfactory and that has considerably improved his chewing ability as shown by the quality of life questionnaire based on the publication of El Sayed (Fig. 4) [11]. Although some studies show that closure of the oronasal communication using free flap are preferable to implant stabilized obturators in case of large defects [9], there are no significant differences in case of mid size defects, regarding psychological effects [12] and speech intelligibility [9,1214]. If maxillary reconstructions show generally best results for improving chewing performance [15,16], remaining teeth on contralateral maxilla improve obturator performances [17]. There are no differences regarding swallowing functions [9,16] and the literature show contradictory results concerning aesthetics results: while there are no significant differences in some case [13], other authors report a highest level of dissatisfaction in patients treated with obturator even though they cannot explain it clearly [12,14,18]. Moreover, the maintenance of a removable denture is easier, which was mandatory in this case.

The main question remains the type of implant-prosthesis connexion. Low force magnetic attachments have been described [5], or bars [3,6]. Despite a lack of consensus, the authors seem to recommend securing the implants to ensure the durability of the rehabilitation. Additionally, connecting the implants provides a better sustain: a bar with mesial and distal extensions was made to better distribute occlusal forces and improve the retention and stability. Actually, overloading of zygomatic implants could be one of the causes of implant loss [3,6]. At last, it seems that in case of hemimaxillectomy in edentulous patients, ZI allow a better transmission of occlusal stress than conventional implants in the non-operative side [19,20].


The rehabilitation strategy for maxillectomy patients is controversial. The surgeon must deal with postsurgical oncologic anatomy and the patient's need. Maxillary obturator stabilized by zygomatic implants is an interesting alternative to maxillary reconstructions with implant supported or implant stabilized prosthesis. This will be particularly true in patients with poor status, guarded prognosis or who are unable to easily clean up their prosthesis. This treatment allows a high level of comfort and improvement of the quality of life.

Conflicts of interests

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest in relation to this article.


  1. Aparicio C, Manresa C, Francisco K, Claros P, Alández J, González-Martín O, et al. Zygomatic implants: indications, techniques and outcomes, and the zygomatic success code. Periodontol 2000 2014;66:41–58. [Google Scholar]
  2. Chrcanovic BR, Albrektsson T, Wennerberg A. Survival and complications of zygomatic implants: an updated systematic review. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2016;74:1949–1964. [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  3. Dattani A, Richardson D, Butterworth CJ. A novel report on the use of an oncology zygomatic implant-retained maxillary obturator in a paediatric patient. Int J Implant Dent 2017;3:9. [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  4. Pellegrino G, Tarsitano A, Basile F, Pizzigallo A, Marchetti C. Computer-aided rehabilitation of maxillary oncological defects using zygomatic implants: a defect-based classification. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2015;73:2446.e1–2446.e11. [Google Scholar]
  5. Ozaki H, Ishikawa S, Kitabatake K, Yusa K, Sakurai H, Iino M. Functional and aesthetic rehabilitation with maxillary prosthesis supported by two zygomatic implants for maxillary defect resulting from cancer ablative surgery: a case report/technique article. Odontology 2016;104:233–238. [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  6. Atalay B, Doğanay Ö, Saraçoğlu BK, Bultan Ö, Hafiz G. Clinical evaluation of zygomatic implant-supported fixed and removable prosthesis. J Craniofac Surg 2017;28:185–189. [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  7. Bernhart BJ, Huryn JM, Disa J, Shah JP, Zlotolow IM. Hard palate resection, microvascular reconstruction, and prosthetic restoration: a 14-year retrospective analysis. Head Neck 2003;25: 671–680. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  8. Baliarsing AS, Kumar VV, Malik NA, B DK. Reconstruction of maxillectomy defects using deep circumflex iliac artery-based composite free flap. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2010;109:e8–13. [Google Scholar]
  9. Moreno MA, Skoracki RJ, Hanna EY, Hanasono MM. Microvascular free flap reconstruction versus palatal obturation for maxillectomy defects. Head Neck 2010;32:860–868. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  10. Costa H, Zenha H, Sequeira H, Coelho G, Gomes N, Pinto C, et al. Microsurgical reconstruction of the maxilla: Algorithm and concepts. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg 2015;68:e89–104. [Google Scholar]
  11. El-Sayed WM, Gad MA, Medra AM. Prosthodontic management of maxillectomy patients with dental implants in residual zygomatic bone: a preliminary report. Int J Prosthodont. 2014;27:534–540. [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  12. Rogers SN, Lowe D, McNally D, Brown JS, Vaughan ED. Health-related quality of life after maxillectomy: a comparison between prosthetic obturation and free flap. J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2003;61:174–181. [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  13. Rieger JM, Tang JAL, Wolfaardt J, Harris J, Seikaly H. Comparison of speech and aesthetic outcomes in patients with maxillary reconstruction versus maxillary obturators after maxillectomy. J Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2011;40:40–47. [Google Scholar]
  14. Wang F, Huang W, Zhang C, Sun J, Qu X, Wu Y. Functional outcome and quality of life after a maxillectomy: a comparison between an implant supported obturator and implant supported fixed prostheses in a free vascularized flap. Clin Oral Implants Res 2017;28:137–143. [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  15. Genden EM, Okay D, Stepp MT, Rezaee RP, Mojica JS, Buchbinder D, et al. Comparison of functional and quality-of-life outcomes in patients with and without palatomaxillary reconstruction: a preliminary report. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003;129:775–780. [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  16. Sreeraj R, Krishnan V, V M, Thankappan K. Comparison of masticatory and swallowing functional outcomes in surgically and prosthetically rehabilitated maxillectomy patients. Int J Prosthodont 2017;30:573–576. [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  17. Vero N, Mishra N, Singh BP, Singh K, Jurel SK, Kumar V. Assessment of swallowing and masticatory performance in obturator wearers: a clinical study. J Adv Prosthodont 2015;7:8–14. [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  18. Breeze J, Rennie A, Morrison A, Dawson D, Tipper J, Rehman K, et al. Health-related quality of life after maxillectomy: obturator rehabilitation compared with flap reconstruction. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg 2016;54:857–862. [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
  19. Korkmaz FM, Korkmaz YT, Yaluğ S, Korkmaz T. Impact of dental and zygomatic implants on stress distribution in maxillary defects: a 3-dimensional finite element analysis study. J Oral Implantol 2012;38:557–567. [Google Scholar]
  20. Akay C, Yaluğ S. Biomechanical 3-dimensional finite element analysis of obturator protheses retained with zygomatic and dental implants in maxillary defects. Med Sci Monit. 2015;21:604–611. [CrossRef] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

All Figures

thumbnail Fig. 1

Pre operative situation. (a) Maxillary defect, (b) implant planification (Nobelclinician® software), (c) intrabuccal view of the fistula.

In the text
thumbnail Fig. 2

Surgical phase. (a) Intrabuccal view of the fistula (b) flap closure with buccal fat pad.

In the text
thumbnail Fig. 3

Prosthesis. (a) Transversal view of retention bar, (b) frontal view of retention bar, (c) intraoral view with prosthesis.

In the text
thumbnail Fig. 4

Quality of life questionnaire based on El Sayed publication [11].

In the text

Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.

Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.

Initial download of the metrics may take a while.