Objective: To provide a simplified treatment strategy for patients with maxillary transverse deficiency. We investigated and compared the fracture mechanics and stress distribution of a midline palatal suture under dynamic loads during surgically-assisted rapid palatal expansion.
Methods: Based on the cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) data of a 21-year-old female volunteer, a three-dimensional model of the cranio-maxillofacial complex (including the palatal suture) was constructed. A finite element analysis model was constructed based on meshwork. After the yield strength of the palatal suture was set, an increasing expansion force (0–500 N) was applied within 140 ms to calculate the time–load curve, which mimicked nonsurgical bone expansion (model A). The same method was used to evaluate the fracture process, time and stress distribution of the palatal suture in maxillary lateral osteotomy-assisted (model B) and LeFort osteomy I (LFIO)-assisted expansion of the maxillary arch (model C).
Results: Compared with model A, the palatal suture of model B and model C showed a faster stress accumulation rate and shorter fracture time, and the fracture time of model B and model C was almost identical. Compared with model A, we discovered that model B and model C showed greater lateral extension of the maxilla, and the difference was reflected mainly in the lower part of the maxilla, and there was no difference between model B and model C in lateral extension of the maxilla.
Conclusions: Compared with arch expansion using nonsurgical assistance (model A), arch expansion using maxillary lateral wall-osteotomy (model B) or LFIO had a faster rate of stress accumulation, shorter time of fracture of the palatal suture and increased lateral displacement of the maxilla. Compared with arch expansion using LFIO (model C), arch expansion using lateral osteotomy (model B) had a similar duration of palatal suture rupture and lateral maxillary extension. In view of the trauma and serious complications associated with LFIO, maxillary lateral wall-osteotomy could be considered a substitute for LFIO.