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J Dent Res. 2012 Nov;91(11):1026-31. doi: 10.1177/0022034512460403. Epub 2012 Sep 14.

Randomized trial of partial vs. stepwise caries removal: 3-year follow-up.

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Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.


This randomized, multicenter clinical trial evaluated the effectiveness of 2 treatments for deep caries lesions - partial caries removal (PCR) and stepwise excavation (SW) - with respect to the primary outcome of pulp vitality for a 3-year follow-up period. Inclusion criteria were as follows: patients with permanent molars presenting deep caries lesions (lesion affecting ≥ 1/2 of the dentin on radiographic examination), positive response to a cold test, absence of spontaneous pain, negative sensitivity to percussion, and absence of periapical lesions (radiographic examination). Teeth randomly assigned to PCR (test) received incomplete caries removal and filling in a single session. Outcome success was evaluated by assessment of pulp vitality, determined by pulp sensitivity to a cold test and the absence of periapical lesions. Data were analyzed by a Weibull regression model with shared frailty term (survival analysis). At baseline, 299 treatments were executed: PCR, 152 and SW, 147. By the end of the 3-year follow-up period, 213 teeth had been evaluated. Adjusted survival rates were 91% for PCR and 69% for SW (p = 0.004). These results suggest that there is no need to re-open a cavity and perform a second excavation for pulp vitality to be preserved (Clinical trials registration NCT00887952).

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