Normal Variants of the Oral and Maxillofacial Region: Mimics and Pitfalls

Kotaro Ito, Naohisa Hirahara, Hirotaka Muraoka, Shunya Okada, Takumi Kondo, V. Carlota Andreu-Arasa, Osamu Sakai, Takashi Kaneda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A normal variant is defined as an incidental, often asymptomatic, imaging finding that mimics a true pathologic condition. Given the complex anatomy and wide variety of normal variants in the oral and maxillofacial region, a thorough understanding of com-monly encountered normal variants in this region is essential to avoid misinterpretation and unnecessary further imaging or interventions. Moreover, familiarity with normal variants that are known to become symptomatic at times is necessary to facilitate further workup and guide the treatment plan. Intraoral radiography and panoramic radiography, which are unique to oral and maxillofacial radiology, provide two-dimensional (2D) images. Hence, the overlapping of structures or the displacement of the tomographic layer on images can confuse radiologists. It is crucial to understand the principle of 2D imaging to avoid being confused by ghost images or optical illusions. In addition, understanding the normal development of the maxillofacial region is essential when interpreting maxillofacial images in children or young adults because the anatomy may be quite different from that of mature adults. Knowledge of changes in the jaw bone marrow and each tissue’s growth rate is essential. It is also necessary to know when the tooth germ begins to calcify and the tooth erupts for diagnostic imaging of the maxillofacial region. The authors describe imaging findings and clinical manifestations of common normal variants in the oral and maxillofacial region, divided into four parts: the maxilla, mandible, tooth, and temporomandibular joint, and discuss the imaging approach used to differentiate normal variants from true pathologic conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-521
Number of pages16
JournalRadiographics
Volume42
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022

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