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Head and neck pathology encompasses a wide
range of both malignant and benign diseases that involve both hard and soft
tissues of the head and neck region. Head and neck pathology includes both
surgical and non-surgical diseases. Many of these conditions have systemic
effects which can impact a person’s general state of health.
Patients with head and neck pathology often
present with complaints specific to the condition. The signs and symptoms may
include but are not limited to:
Lumps or bumps
Changes in the
color of tissues
Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons receive
specialized training in both the surgical and medical (non-surgical) management
of these conditions. They are trained to elicit an appropriate history, order
additional tests such as blood work and imaging (x-rays) and when indicated
perform a tissue biopsy in order to make a diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been
established, Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons explain the diagnosis in detail to
the patient and will answer any questions the patient may have concerning the
diagnosis. They will also make further treatment recommendations which may be either
surgical or non-surgical. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons work closely with
other dental and medical specialists and will make referrals to these
specialists when indicated.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are
uniquely trained to manage surgical pathology and have expertise in the
surgical removal of both benign and malignant head and neck tumors. They also
receive specialized training in reconstruction of the defects left following
tumor surgery. Reconstruction of post-surgical defects involves a wide variety
of local and regional flaps as well as free tissue transfer.