New Study Confirms ONJ as Potential Side Effect of Bisphosphonate Use

Osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) is a known potential side effect of intravenous bisphosphonates such as pamidronate (Aredia), and zoledronic acid (Reclast). ONJ is a condition where the bone in the jaw weakens and dies, which usually causes pain.

ONJ of the Jaw

Exposed bone, associated with osteonecrosis of the jaw.

Although bisphosphonates are frequently prescribed for patients with fibrous dysplasia (FD), there were no published reports of ONJ among patients with FD, so some people concluded that patients with FD are not at risk for this side effect.

However, a new study in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery establishes that people with FD are at risk for the development of bisphosphonate-related ONJ. Of 76 patients with FD who were treated with bisphosphonates, 4 developed ONJ (5.4%). Three patients developed ONJ in areas of FD-affected bone and 1 patient developed ONJ in an area of normal bone.

If you are taking bisphosphonates or are considering taking bisphosphonates, you may want to discuss the risk of developing ONJ with your doctor, especially if you have had long-term high-dose intravenous bisphosphonate treatment, periodontal and endodontic infections, and/or dentoalveolar surgical procedures.

To read the full article, or to print it out to share with your doctor, please click here.

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