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Distraction osteogenesis (DO) is a new method of treatment for certain deformities and defects in the jaw and skull. Although first used in 1903, DO was not perfected until a Russian orthopedic surgeon called Dr. Gabriel Ilizarov changed the surgical and postoperative management of correct deformities and repair defects in the arms and legs of his patients. In the mid-1960s, he presented his research to the Western Medical Society.

Distraction Osteogenesis was first used in 1990 to treat defects of the oral and facial region. Since then, new surgical and technological advances have provided numerous oral and maxillofacial surgeons with a safe and predictable treatment method for several different deformities.

If you have questions about distraction osteogenesis, please call our office and schedule an appointment with Dr. Adamous or Dr. Sonnichsen.


Frequently Asked Questions about Distraction Osteogenesis

What does the term distraction osteogenesis mean?

Distraction osteogenesis refers to the slow movement apart (distraction) of two bony segments in the body. This is done so new bone can grow and fill in the gap between the segments, helping to correct a deformity or defect.

Is the surgery for distraction osteogenesis more involved than “traditional surgery” for a similar procedure?

No. Distraction osteogenesis surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis. Most patients can go home the same day of the surgery, while the procedure itself is less invasive with less pain and swelling around the surgical site.

Will my insurance company cover the cost of osteogenesis surgical procedure?

Most insurance companies will cover the cost of the osteogenesis surgical procedure provided that there is adequate and accurate documentation of the patient’s condition. Individual benefits through insurance company policy may vary, so please discuss with us whether or not your insurance company will cover a surgical procedure.

Is distraction osteogenesis painful?

Since all distraction osteogenesis surgical procedures are done while the patient is under general anesthesia, pain during the surgical procedure is not an issue. Postoperatively, you will be supplied with prescribed analgesics (painkillers) and antibiotics to fight off infection at the surgical site. Activation of the distraction device, which separates the bones, might be slightly uncomfortable. It is similar to the experience of having braces tightened.

What are the benefits of distraction osteogenesis vs. traditional surgery for a similar condition?

Distraction osteogenesis typically produces less pain and swelling than traditional surgical methods. DO additionally eliminates the need to use a second surgical side to harvest the material necessary for a bone graft, while also being associated with greater stability in the movement of bony segments.

What are the disadvantages of distraction osteogenesis?

Distraction osteogenesis requires the patient to return to the surgeon’s office frequently during the initial two weeks after surgery. This is necessary because in this time frame the surgeon will need to closely monitor the patient for any infection and teach the patient how to activate the appliance. In some cases, a second minor office surgical procedure is necessary to remove the distraction appliance once it is no longer needed to separate the two segments of bone.

Can distraction osteogenesis be used instead of bone grafts to add bone to my jaws?

Yes. Recent advances in technology have provided the oral and maxillofacial surgeon with a distraction device that can be used to slowly grow bone in selected areas of bone loss in the upper and lower jaws. The newly formed bone can then serve as an excellent foundation for dental implants so a bone graft is unnecessary in the region.

Does distraction osteogenesis leave scars on the face?

No. The entire surgery is performed within the mouth and the distraction devices used by Dr. Adamous or Dr, Sonnichsen remain inside the mouth. There are no facial surgical incisions, so no scars result from the procedure.

Are there any age limitations for patients who can receive osteogenesis?

No. Distraction osteogenesis works well on patients of all ages. In general, the younger a patient is, the shorter amount of time is needed for recovery. This is because children and teens possess bone regenerative abilities typically not seen in adults. Older individuals can still receive osteogenesis but might require a longer period to heal following the procedure and subsequent visits to the office.

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