WARNING: This case has GRAPHIC CONTENT (No, seriously) 

Have you ever had a lesion on the radiograph that is just enormous, and then it looks even bigger on the CBCT? I feel like they’re everywhere these days! (Or maybe it’s just that I see them more often with my CBCT.) 

Here is a case that I treated with that exact scenario. I wanted to share it with you and see how you would manage it, because it was a doozy. I’m curious whether you would have done the same as me, or if your treatment plan would be completely different (please comment at the end and let me know!)

Big Lesion on the Radiograph (& Bigger on the CBCT)

The patient presented with very little pain, but he had a bump under his tissue that would occasionally swell up, a condition that lasted several years. He wasn’t very concerned about it since it never really got too bad and didn’t really hurt. 

The area was not swollen and there was not a sinus tract — rather, it felt like a 1cm firm ball was planted under his tissue. None of his teeth in that area responded to the cold test, and there was no pain to percussion. Here are his periapical radiographs: 

lesion on the radiograph-1
Since the lesion on the radiograph was too big to see in its entirety (it was bigger than the radiograph), I needed a CBCT.  This is what the imaging showed: 

lesion on the radiograph - 3

Holy lesion, Batman!! I mean, this thing was OFF THE CHARTS! I am STILL dumbfounded at how this patient didn’t have any pain. 

Having seen how large the lesion on the radiograph was, and then completing further examination with my CBCT, it was clear: this would not heal from a root canal alone. This patient needed root canal therapy and surgery.  And since this was a bit more extensive than what I like to do on my own, I teamed up with my periodontist, who rocks at this (we’ve done so many of these treatments together that he refers to them as the “Chopra Special” now). 

Digging into the Details

I was able to diagnose the patient with Necrotic Pulps #9, #10 and #11, and Asymptomatic Apical Periodontitis #9, #10 and #11 (some may argue that this may be an Acute Apical Abscess).

Actually, I wasn’t convinced that tooth #11 was necrotic (even though it didn’t respond to cold), but I knew that, after surgery, that tooth would likely get devitalized, so I included it in the treatment plan. 

lesion on the radiograph - 4

Want to see what it looked like surgically? WARNING — GRAPHIC CONTENT.

Well, here you go….the buccal plate was completely gone.

lesion on the radiograph - buccal plate gone

 And so was the lingual plate…

lesion on the radiograph - lingual 

You could actually fit the entire periosteal elevator from the buccal to the lingual side…. 

lesion on the radiograph  

Here is close up of the palatal bone….

 lesion on the radiograph - closeup 

A bone graft was placed…..

 lesion on the radiograph - bone graft 

And since it was a through-and-through lesion, a membrane was placed, too….

 lesion on the radiograph - membrane placed 

This is what he looked like in the immediate post op:

 lesion on the radiograph - post-op

lesion on the radiograph - post-op 2 

And a few weeks later…

 lesion on the radiograph - healing 

lesion on the radiograph - healed 

Once the tissue had a chance to heal, I completed the root canals and restored the access of each tooth with a composite restoration. (Can you believe it after seeing that huge lesion on the radiograph? And then the images of what was really going on? Incredible.)

lesion on the radiograph - all gone

A Waiting Game

Now it’s just a waiting game to see that bone fill back in. But don’t get fooled by this postoperative radiograph — that’s just the bone graft that makes it look totally healed! 

This client is aware that this lesion could take several years to completely heal, so I asked him to be patient. Keep that in mind when you are treating cases like these. They can take up to 4 years to exhibit complete healing, so you need to make sure to set up proper expectations with the patient.

The Enormous Lesion on the Radiograph (What Would You Have Done?)

So, now that I have shown you this case, how many of you would have taken these teeth out? 

How many of you would have treated this case in the same way?

My way is NOT the only way, either. What would you have done differently, if anything? 

How would you treat a case like this? Leave a comment and let me know. 

Empower yourself,



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