Journal of Dental Implants

: 2014  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 44--47

From maxilla to zygoma: A review on zygomatic implants

DR Prithviraj, Richa Vashisht, Harleen Kaur Bhalla 
 Department of Prosthodontics, Government Dental College and Research Institute, Victoria Hospital Campus, Fort, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Richa Vashisht
Government Dental College and Research Institute, Victoria Hospital Campus, Fort, Bengaluru - 560 002, Karnataka


Purpose: Patients with moderate to severe atrophy challenge the surgeon to discover alternative ways to use existing bone or resort to augmenting the patient with autogenous or alloplastic bone materials. The objective of the following study was to review the published literature to evaluate treatment success with zygomatic implants in patients with atrophic posterior maxilla. Study Selection: Medline/PubMed searches were conducted using the terms atrophic maxilla, zygomatic implant, zygomatic bone, grafts, maxillary sinus, as well as combinations of these and related terms. The few articles judged to be relevant were reviewed. Results: Based on the current literature review, zygomatic implants show excellent survival rates (>90%) and a low incidence of complications. Conclusion: With proper case selection, correct indication and knowledge of the surgical technique, the use of zygomatic implants associated with standard implants offers advantages in the rehabilitation of severely resorbed maxillae, especially in areas with inadequate bone quality and volume, without needing an additional bone grafting surgery, wherefore shortening or avoiding hospital stay and reducing surgical morbidity.

How to cite this article:
Prithviraj D R, Vashisht R, Bhalla HK. From maxilla to zygoma: A review on zygomatic implants.J Dent Implant 2014;4:44-47

How to cite this URL:
Prithviraj D R, Vashisht R, Bhalla HK. From maxilla to zygoma: A review on zygomatic implants. J Dent Implant [serial online] 2014 [cited 2020 Sep 18 ];4:44-47
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Full Text


Dental implants are now commonly used for replacing missing teeth in various clinical situations. Dental implants are surgically inserted in the jawbones. Unfortunately, restrictions have appeared in the use of oral implants. One of them is the lack of sufficient bone volume, especially in the posterior maxilla. [1]

During the last three decades, several surgical procedures have been developed to increase local bone volume in deficient anatomical regions, including total/segmental bone on lays, Le Forte1 osteotomy with interpositional bone grafts and grafting of the maxillary sinus with autogenous bone and/or bone substitute. [2]

These techniques pose a series of inconveniences, such as the need for multiple surgical interventions, the use of extraoral bone donor sites (e.g., iliac crest or skull) - with the morbidity involved in surgery of these zones - and the long duration during which patients remain without rehabilitation during the graft consolidation and healing interval. These factors complicate patient acceptance of the restorative treatment and limit the number of procedures carried out.

In order to overcome such limitations, different therapeutic alternatives have been proposed, such as, implants placed in specific anatomical areas like the pterygoid region, the tuber or the zygoma [Figure 1]. Any of these procedures requires considerable surgical expertise and has its own advantages, limits, surgical risks and complications involving biological and financial costs. The placement of implants in the zygomatic bone as an alternative to maxillary reconstruction with autogenous bone grafts has been considered a viable option in the rehabilitation of atrophic maxillae.{Figure 1}

Anatomy of Zygomatic Bone

The zygoma bone can be compared to a pyramid, offering an interesting anatomy for the insertion of implants. In an article in 1993, Aparicio et al. mentioned the possibility of inserting dental implants in the zygomatic bone. [3] In 1997, Weischer et al. cited the use of the zygoma as a support structure in the rehabilitation of patients subjected to maxillectomies. [4] Following Branemark's description, Uchida et al. in 2001, measured the maxilla and zygoma in 12 cadavers, observing that the apex of a 3.75 mm- diameter implant requires a zygoma of at least 5.75 mm in thickness. With respect to implant placement, they advised that an angulation of 43.8° or less increases the risk of perforating the infratemporal fossa or the lateral area of the maxilla; if the angulation is more vertical, 50.6° or more, this increases the risk of perforating the orbital floor. [5]

Nkenke et al. in their study used computed tomography and histomorphometry to examine 30 human zygoma, the study revealed that the zygomatic bone consists of trabecular bone, an unfavorable parameter for implant placement; however, the success of implants placed in the zygomatic bone was achieved by the implant crossing four portions of cortical bone. [6]

In a study done by Kato et al. investigated the internal structure of the edentulous zygomatic bone in cadavers using micro-computed tomography, finding that the presence of wider and thicker trabeculae at the apical end of the fixture promotes initial fixation. [7]

 Description of The Zygomatic Implant

The zygomatic implants are self-tapping screws in c.p. titanium with a well-defined machined surface. They are available in eight different lengths ranging from 30 to 52.5 mm. They present a unique 45° angulated head to compensate for the angulation between the zygoma and the maxilla [Figure 2]. The portion that engages the zygoma has a diameter of 4.0 mm and the portion that engages the residual maxillary alveolar process a diameter of 4.5 mm. [8],[9]{Figure 2}

 Presurgical Evaluation

Clinical examination is not sufficient for this evaluation and radiologic assessment has to be considered. Bedrossian et al. in their study on zygomatic and premaxillary implants used panoramic radiographs, which generally depict the size and configuration of the maxillary sinuses, the height of the residual ridge and the position of the nasal floor. The body of the zygoma can usually be visualized. [9] However, orthopantomography can give distorted information and therefore, the examination of choice is the spiral or helicoid computed tomography (CT) scan, which makes two- and three-dimensional imaging possible with axial cuts every 2 mm parallel to the palatal arch and conventional tomography with frontal tomograms perpendicular to the hard palate every 3-4 mm. The CT scan also gives the opportunity to visualize the health of the maxilla and the sinus. Sinusitis, polyps or any sinusal pathology can be excluded. The density, length and volume of the zygoma can be evaluated and special templates for inserting the zygomatic implants can be constructed on stereolithographic models to facilitate the orientation of the zygomatic implants during the surgery with minimal errors in angulation and position. [10] Vrielinck et al., presented a planning system for zygomatic implant insertion based on the pre-operative CT imaging; they calculated the position of the implants and fabricated a surgical guide. Using this system they obtained a success rate of 92% in 29 patients with zygomatic implants (two implants did not reach the zygomatic arch when using this surgical guide). [11]

 Surgical Procedure

The original procedure, defined by Branemark in 1998, consisted of the insertion of a 35-55 mm-long implant anchored in the zygomatic bone following an intra-sinusal trajectory. [12] Since this description, many authors have varied the technique slightly. Stella and Wagner described a variant of the technique (Sinus Slot Technique) in which the implant is positioned through the sinus via a narrow slot, following the contour of the malar bone and introducing the implant in the zygomatic process. In this way, the need for fenestration of the maxillary sinus is avoided and the implant is caused to emerge over the alveolar crest at first molar level, with a more vertical angulation [Figure 3]. [13] Peñarrocha et al. 12 published in 2007 a series of 21 cases with the "Slot technique" with a 100% survival rate, but the Schneiderian membrane was perforated in all cases, even though the incidence of sinus pathology was low (two cases). [14]{Figure 3}

 Multiple Zygomatic Implants

The use of multiple zygomatic implants (i.e., two to three in each side) was suggested by Bothur et al. [15] In a recent study, Duarte et al. used four zygomatic implants and no premaxillary conventional implants in the prosthetic rehabilitation of 12 patients with edentulous and severely resorbed maxillas. A fixed bridge of a gold framework and acrylic teeth was fabricated and delivered shortly after implant surgery. The patients were evaluated after 6 and 30 months when the bridges were removed for individual testing of implant stability. One zygomatic implant was found to be loose at the 6-month follow-up and another one was found to be loose at the 30-month check-up. Thus, the overall survival rate was 95.8% after 30 months of follow-up. No severe complications relating to the sinus or the soft-tissues were reported. [16]


The reported complications associated with zygomatic implants include postoperative sinusitis, oroantral fistula formation, periorbital and subconjunctival hematoma or edema, lip lacerations, pain, facial edema, temporary paresthesia, epistaxis, gingival inflammation and orbital penetration/injury [Table 1]. Post-operative concerns regarding difficulty with speech articulation and hygiene caused by the palatal emergence of the zygomatic implant and its effect on the prosthesis suprastructure have been reported.{Table 1}


The zygomatic implant is an alternative procedure to bone augmentation, maxillary sinus lift and to bone grafts in patients with posterior atrophic maxillae. The zygomatic implant technique should be regarded as a major surgical procedure and proper training is of course needed. However, in comparison with bone grafting procedures, the technique is less invasive and complicated and has a lower risk of morbidity due to the fact that harvesting of bone graft is usually not needed. Based on the current literature review, zygomatic implants show excellent survival rates (>90%) and a low incidence of complications, so this should be considered a valid and safe treatment option when dealing with patients with advanced maxillary atrophy.[25]


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