Suppurative osteomyelitis, bisphosphonate induced osteonecrosis, osteoradionecrosis: A blinded histopathologic comparison and its implications for the mechanism of each disease

Robert Marx, R. Tursun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

54 Scopus citations


Statistically, significant numbers of central bone specimens of suppurative osteomyelitis of the jaws (SOJ), bisphosphonate induced osteonecrosis of the jaws (BIONJ), and osteoradionecrosis of the jaws (ORNJ) were compared. All three evidenced the common finding of necrotic bone with empty osteocytic lacunae, Haversian and Volkmann canals, but each showed a distinctive histopathologic pattern indicating a different disease mechanism and treatment options. Suppurative osteomyelitis was characterized by intense marrow inflammation and marrow vessel thrombosis with retention of viable osteoclasts and periosteum. Bisphosphonate induced osteonecrosis was characterized by an empty marrow space with empty Howship's lacunae and an absence of osteoclasts but viable periosteum. Osteoradionecrosis was characterized by a collagenous hypocellular, hypovascular marrow space and nonviable periosteum. Histologic evidence in SOJ indicates a microorganism provoked intense inflammation and marrow vascular thrombosis creating an environment conducive to continual bacterial proliferation. BIONJ is seen as a non-inflammatory drug toxicity to bone by osteoclastic death leading to over suppression of bone renewal, and ORN as another non-inflammatory condition caused by a high linear energy transfer that impairs or kills numerous cell types in the field of radiation including periosteum, bone, and all soft tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-289
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012



  • bisphosphonates
  • osteomyelitis
  • osteonecrosis
  • osteoradionecrosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Surgery

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