Background and Objective: For ethical reasons it is becoming increasingly more difficult to obtain, from clinical studies, histological data on infrabony defects treated with guided tissue regeneration (GTR) techniques. The aim of this systematic review was to find the value of extrapolating animal data on treatment of periodontal infrabony lesions, using GTR only or GTR + bone grafts, to human clinical results. Material and Methods: Searches of the PubMed and Cochrane databases were combined with hand searching of articles published from 1 January 1969 to 1 August 2012. The search included any type of barrier membrane, with or without grafted materials, used to treat periodontal infrabony lesions. All studies with histological or re-entry methodology outcome parameters that evaluated bone-filling and/or new-cementum-formation ratios from a defect depth were collected. When comparing animal and human outcomes, a meta-analysis was used to evaluate the bone-filling ratio, but only a descriptive analysis of the histological studies was performed. Results: In total, 22 studies were selected for the meta-analysis. In the GTR + bone graft groups the weighted-average bone-filling ratios were 52% (95% CI: 18-85%) in animals and 57% (95% CI: 30-83%) in humans, which were not statistically significantly different (p = 0.825). Similar results were found in the GTR-only groups, in which the weighted-average bone-filling ratios were 54% (95% CI: 37-72%) in animals and 59% (95% CI: 42-77%) in humans (p = 0.703). New-cementum formation of GTR only and GTR + bone grafts showed comparable ratio outcomes, and both were superior to the control group in animals only (p = 0.042). Conclusion: Although quality assessments differed between animal and human studies, our analysis indicated that animal models and human results showed similar bone-filling ratios in infrabony defects treated with GTR only or with GTR + bone grafting.
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