Oral Submucous Fibrosis Treatment & Management
- Author: Nektarios I Lountzis, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD more...
The treatment of patients with oral submucous fibrosis depends on the degree of clinical involvement. If the disease is detected at a very early stage, cessation of the habit is sufficient. Most patients with oral submucous fibrosis present with moderate-to-severe disease. Moderate-to-severe oral submucous fibrosis is irreversible. Medical treatment is symptomatic and predominantly aimed at improving mouth movements. Treatment strategies include the following :
- Steroids: In patients with moderate oral submucous fibrosis, weekly submucosal intralesional injections or topical application of steroids may help prevent further damage.
- Placental extracts: The rationale for using placental extract in patients with oral submucous fibrosis derives from its proposed anti-inflammatory effect, hence, preventing or inhibiting mucosal damage. Cessation of areca nut chewing and submucosal administration of aqueous extract of healthy human placental extract (Placentrex) has shown marked improvement of the condition.
- Hyaluronidase: The use of topical hyaluronidase has been shown to improve symptoms more quickly than steroids alone. Hyaluronidase can also be added to intralesional steroid preparations. The combination of steroids and topical hyaluronidase shows better long-term results than either agent used alone.
- IFN-gamma: This plays a role in the treatment of patients with oral submucous fibrosis because of its immunoregulatory effect. IFN-gamma is a known antifibrotic cytokine. IFN-gamma, through its effect of altering collagen synthesis, appears to be a key factor to the treatment of patients with oral submucous fibrosis, and intralesional injections of the cytokine may have a significant therapeutic effect on oral submucous fibrosis.
- Lycopene: Newer studies highlight the benefit of this oral nutritional supplement at a daily dose of 16 mg. Mouth opening in 2 treatment arms (40 patients total) was statistically improved in patients with oral submucous fibrosis. This effect was slightly enhanced with the injection of intralesional betamethasone (two 1-mL ampules of 4 mg each) twice weekly, but the onset of effect was slightly delayed.
- Pentoxifylline: In a pilot study, 14 test subjects with advanced oral submucous fibrosis given pentoxifylline at 400 mg 3 times daily were compared to 15 age- and sex-matched diseased control subjects. Statistical improvement was noted in all measures of objective (mouth opening, tongue protrusion, and relief from fibrotic bands) and subjective (intolerance to spices, burning sensation of mouth, tinnitus, difficulty in swallowing, and difficulty in speech) symptoms over a 7-month period. Further studies are needed, but this could be used in conjunction with other therapies.
The role of these treatments is still evolving. The US Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved these drugs for the treatment of oral submucous fibrosis.
Surgical treatment is indicated in patients with severe trismus and/or biopsy results revealing dysplastic or neoplastic changes. Surgical modalities that have been used include the following:
- Simple excision of the fibrous bands: Excision can result in contracture of the tissue and exacerbation of the condition.
- Split-thickness skin grafting following bilateral temporalis myotomy or coronoidectomy: Trismus associated with oral submucous fibrosis may be due to changes in the temporalis tendon secondary to oral submucous fibrosis; therefore, skin grafts may relieve symptoms.
- Nasolabial flaps and lingual pedicle flaps: Surgery to create flaps is performed only in patients with oral submucous fibrosis in whom the tongue is not involved.
- Use of a KTP-532 laser release procedure was found to increase mouth opening range in 9 patients over a 12-month follow-up period in one study.
- ErCr:YSGG laser fibrotomy, performed under a local anesthesia, may be a useful adjunct in managing oral submucous fibrosis.
See the list below:
- Consult an ear, nose, and throat specialist for evaluation of dysplasia and close follow-up monitoring for the development of oral cancer.
- Consult a plastic surgeon for patients with severe trismus, in whom reconstructive surgery may be possible.
See the list below:
- Dietary focus should be on reducing exposure to the risk factors, especially the use of betel quid, and correcting any nutritional deficiencies, such as iron and vitamin B complex deficiencies.
See the list below:
- Physical therapy using muscle-stretching exercises for the mouth may be helpful in preventing further limitation of mouth movements. This is often combined with medical and surgical therapy.
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