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Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2010 Apr;137(4 Suppl):S71-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2008.08.026.

Oropharyngeal airway changes after rapid palatal expansion evaluated with cone-beam computed tomography.

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Department of Orthodontics, School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0641, USA.



The aims of this retrospective study were to use cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) to assess changes in the volume of the oropharynx in growing patients with maxillary constriction treated by rapid palatal expansion (RPE) and to compare them with changes in age- and sex-matched orthodontic patients.


The experimental group consisted of 24 patients (mean age, 12.8+/-1.88 years) with maxillary constriction who were treated with hyrax palatal expanders; the control group comprised 24 age- and sex-matched patients (mean age, 12.8+/-1.85 years) who were just starting regular orthodontic treatment. Beginning and progress CBCT scans, taken in the supine position, were analyzed with software to measure volume, length, and minimal cross-sectional area of the oropharyngeal airway. The 2 groups were compared with paired t tests.


Only retropalatal airway volume was found to be significantly different between groups before treatment (P = 0.011), and this difference remained after treatment (P = 0.024). No other statistically significant differences were found relative to changes in volume, length, or minimum cross-sectional area of the oropharyngeal airway between the groups, but the molar-to-molar width after RPE increased significantly compared with the controls (P <0.001).


Narrow oropharyngeal airways in growing patients with maxillary constriction was demonstrated. But there was no evidence to support the hypothesis that RPE could enlarge oropharyngeal airway volume.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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