Ameloblastomas are aggressive benign odontogenic (from tooth forming cells) tumors. They can occur in the upper or lower jaw but are predominantly in the lower jaw. They typically are painless but can be painful and cause jaw swelling. They can be associated with impacted teeth of the jaws. The x-ray appearance is a radiolucency (dark area) and can be multi-locular (soap bubble) appearance. This is due to the variants of the tumors. The treatment is surgery. Often the entire jaw is removed with the tumor to remove the tumor entirely.
This case is of a unicystic ameloblastoma. The patient is a 35 year old woman with a swelling of the left lower jaw. The x-ray revealed a unicystic lesion of the left lower jaw. This was biopsied and found to be an ameloblastoma. Many surgeons elect to resect or cut away the jaw. My recommendation was to excise the tumor without removing a large portion of the lower jaw. The patient was taken to the operating room and the tumor was removed from the lower jaw. This was removed like removing a hardboiled egg from the shell of the egg. The bone was removed in the area of the tumor and a bone graft was placed. The gums were closed with sutures. She will be evaluated carefully clinically and with x-rays for the next 5 years. There is a risk of recurrence (tumor returning) but this treatment limits the patients surgery, downtime, complications and need for additional surgery.
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