Stafne cyst

Last revised by Dr Francis Deng on 18 Feb 2019

Stafne bone cavities, also known as Stafne bone cyst, static bone cavity of the mandible, or lingual salivary gland inclusion defect, are cortical defects near the angle of the mandible below the mandibular canal. It is usually an incidental finding and represents a depression in the medial aspect of the mandible filled by part of the submandibular gland or adjacent fat. 

Strictly speaking, it is not a cyst since it does not contain any fluid. Therefore, the term Stafne bone cavity is preferred 2.

Stafne cysts are most frequently seen in middle-aged men. The estimated prevalence ranges around 0.10-0.48% 2.

Stafne cysts are thought to result from remodeling of the bone by adjacent salivary tissue and have been noted to regress following resection of the gland nearby. 

They generally appear in the area between the mandibular first molar and the mandibular angle 6.

The Stafne defect tends to not increase in size or change in radiographic appearance over time (hence the term "static bone cyst"), and this can be used to help confirm the diagnosis.

Stafne's defect is usually discovered by chance during routine dental radiography. Radiographically, it is a well-circumscribed, monolocular, round, radiolucent defect, 1-3 cm in size, usually between the inferior alveolar nerve and the inferior border of the posterior mandible between the molars and the angle of the jaw. The radiolucent defect may be superimposed on the lower anterior teeth and be mistaken for an odontogenic lesion. Sometimes the defect may interrupt the contour of the lower border of the mandible and may be palpable.

CT will show a shallow defect through the medial cortex of the mandible with a corticated rim and no soft tissue abnormalities, with the exception of a portion of the submandibular gland herniating into the defect.

Sialography may be sometimes used to help demonstrate the salivary gland tissue within the bone.

MRI can delineate the continuation of the submandibular gland into the mandibular defect as an alternative to CT.

It should not be confused with other lytic lesions of the jaw.

They are named after Edward C Stafne an American dentist (1894-1981).

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: OPG
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  • Case 2
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