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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth: Can dental pain ever be the sole presenting symptom of a myocardial infarction? A systematic review

  • Author(s): Jalali, N
  • Vilke, GM
  • Korenevsky, M
  • Castillo, EM
  • Wilson, MP
  • et al.

Background Pain symptoms related to cardiac ischemia can vary greatly from patient to patient. However, should emergency physicians consider the possibility of myocardial infarction in patients who present solely with dental pain? Objective This is a systematic review of the literature investigating the incidence of jaw, tooth, or facial pain as the sole symptom of cardiac ischemia. Methods Studies investigating jaw, tooth, or facial pain of cardiac origin were identified using the PubMed database. All English studies in which cardiac pain originated in the face, teeth, or jaw were screened for inclusion. Data were abstracted from each study utilizing a structured review process, and rated for methodological quality. Results Eighteen studies met study criteria: 16 were case reports, and the remaining 2 were prospective cohort studies. After quality assessment and categorization, nine reports were categorized as weak, eight moderate, and one strong methodological quality. Conclusion Cardiac ischemia may present in no anatomic location other than face or jaw. However, despite frequent claims in the literature to the contrary, the lack of methodological quality of the studies investigated impedes a firm conclusion of face, jaw, or tooth pain as the only symptom of cardiac insufficiency. © 2014 Elsevier Inc. Printed in the USA. All rights reserved.

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