Current treatments for destructive periodontal (gum) disease are not able to restore damaged bone and connective tissue support for teeth. There are therefore limitations in treating patients with advanced disease. The surgical technique, guided tissue regeneration (GTR) may be able to achieve regeneration and therefore improve upon conventional surgical results. The results of this review have shown some advantage to using GTR in infra-bony defects but with wide variations in the benefits achievable compared with conventional surgery. We were unable to identify conclusively factors responsible for this variability. Therefore, patients and health professionals need to consider the predictability of the technique compared with other methods of treatment before making final decisions on use. Adverse effects of treatment were generally minor and similar between groups although with an increased treatment time for GTR. We recommend further research to address the issue of variability and to identify which characteristics of the disease or the patient are more clearly associated with a beneficial outcome.
GTR has a greater effect on probing measures of periodontal treatment than open flap debridement, including improved attachment gain, reduced pocket depth, less increase in gingival recession and more gain in hard tissue probing at re-entry surgery. However there is marked variability between studies and the clinical relevance of these changes is unknown. As a result, it is difficult to draw general conclusions about the clinical benefit of GTR. Whilst there is evidence that GTR can demonstrate a significant improvement over conventional open flap surgery, the factors affecting outcomes are unclear from the literature and these might include study conduct issues such as bias. Therefore, patients and health professionals need to consider the predictability of the technique compared with other methods of treatment before making final decisions on use. Since trial reports were often incomplete, we recommend that future trials should follow the CONSORT statement both in their conduct and reporting.
There is therefore little value in future research repeating simple, small efficacy studies. The priority should be to identify factors associated with improved outcomes as well as investigating outcomes relevant to patients. Types of research might include large observational studies to generate hypotheses for testing in clinical trials, qualitative studies on patient-centred outcomes and trials exploring innovative analytic methods such as multilevel modelling. Open flap surgery should remain the control comparison in these studies.
Conventional treatment of destructive periodontal (gum) disease arrests the disease but does not usually regain the bone support or connective tissue lost in the disease process. Guided tissue regeneration (GTR) is a surgical procedure that specifically aims to regenerate the periodontal tissues when the disease is advanced and could overcome some of the limitations of conventional therapy.
To assess the efficacy of GTR in the treatment of periodontal infra-bony defects measured against conventional surgery (open flap debridement (OFD)) and factors affecting outcomes.
We conducted an electronic search of the Cochrane Oral Health Group Trials Register, MEDLINE and EMBASE up to April 2004. Handsearching included Journal of Periodontology, Journal of Clinical Periodontology, Journal of Periodontal Research and bibliographies of all relevant papers and review articles up to April 2004. In addition, we contacted experts/groups/companies involved in surgical research to find other trials or unpublished material or to clarify ambiguous or missing data and posted requests for data on two periodontal electronic discussion groups.
Randomised, controlled trials (RCTs) of at least 12 months duration comparing guided tissue regeneration (with or without graft materials) with open flap debridement for the treatment of periodontal infra-bony defects. Furcation involvements and studies specifically treating aggressive periodontitis were excluded.
Screening of possible studies and data extraction was conducted independently. The methodological quality of studies was assessed in duplicate using individual components and agreement determined by Kappa scores. Methodological quality was used in sensitivity analyses to test the robustness of the conclusions. The Cochrane Collaboration statistical guidelines were followed and the results expressed as mean differences (MD and 95% CI) for continuous outcomes and risk ratios (RR and 95% CI) for dichotomous outcomes calculated using random-effects models. Any heterogeneity was investigated. The primary outcome measure was change in clinical attachment.
The search produced 626 titles, of these 596 were clearly not relevant to the review. The full text of 32 studies of possible relevance was obtained and 15 studies were excluded. Therefore 17 RCTs were included in this review, 16 studies testing GTR alone and two testing GTR + bone substitutes (one study had both test treatment arms).
No tooth loss was reported in any study although these data are incomplete where patient follow up was not complete. For attachment level change, the mean difference between GTR and OFD was 1.22 mm (95% CI Random Effects: 0.80 to 1.64, Chi2 for heterogeneity 69.1 (df = 15), P < 0.001, I2 = 78%) and for GTR + bone substitutes was 1.25 mm (95% CI 0.89 to 1.61, Chi2 for heterogeneity 0.01 (df = 1), P = 0.91). GTR showed a significant benefit when comparing the numbers of sites failing to gain 2 mm attachment with risk ratio 0.54 (95% CI Random Effects: 0.31 to 0.96, Chi2 for heterogeneity 8.9 (df = 5), P = 0.11). The number needed to treat (NNT) for GTR to achieve one extra site gaining 2 mm or more attachment over open flap debridement was therefore 8 (95% CI 5 to 33), based on an incidence of 28% of sites in the control group failing to gain 2 mm or more of attachment. For baseline incidences in the range of the control groups of 3% and 55% the NNTs are 71 and 4.
Probing depth reduction was greater for GTR than OFD: 1.21 mm (95% CI 0.53 to 1.88, Chi2 for heterogeneity 62.9 (df = 10), P < 0.001, I2 = 84%) or GTR + bone substitutes, weighted mean difference 1.24 mm (95% CI 0.89 to 1.59, Chi2 for heterogeneity 0.03 (df = 1), P = 0.85).
For gingival recession, a statistically significant difference between GTR and open flap debridement controls was evident (mean difference 0.26 mm (95% CI Random Effects: 0.08, 0.43, Chi2 for heterogeneity 2.7 (df = 8), P = 0.95), with a greater change in recession from baseline for the control group.
Regarding hard tissue probing at surgical re-entry, a statistically significant greater gain was found for GTR compared with open flap debridement. This amounted to a weighted mean difference of 1.39 mm (95% CI 1.08 to 1.71, Chi2 for heterogeneity 0.85 (df = 2), P = 0.65). For GTR + bone substitutes the difference was greater, with mean difference 3.37 mm (95% CI 3.14 to 3.61).
Adverse effects were generally minor although with an increased treatment time for GTR. Exposure of the barrier membrane was frequently reported with a lack of evidence of an effect on healing.