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Dr. Ernest Reeh, Practice Profile

Dr. Ernest Reeh, Practice Profile

Focus on patients, family, academics, and endodontics What can you tell us about your background? I have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a minor in business. I was accepted off of the alternate list for dental school and then attained...


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The Laschal FXP set incorporates transferred oscillation technology

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Dr. Dominique Martin presents clinical case studies to demonstrate the removal of a fractured instrument with a new extractor

Educational aims and objectives

The purpose of this article is to explain how to remove a fractured instrument with a new type of extractor.

Expected outcomes
Correctly answering the questions on page 35, worth 2 hours of CE, will demonstrate you can describe how to remove a fractured instrument with a new type of extractor. Click here to take the quiz to receive CE credits.


The fracture of a root canal instrument during endodontic treatment is a surgical accident that every practitioner is likely to have encountered at some point during their careers. The risk of instrument fracture has, however, increased in recent years in line with the constantly growing use of rotary instruments for root canal preparation. A recent study carried out on the practical experience of seven endodontists over a period of 13 years has revealed a risk of instrument fracture of 3.3% (Spili, Parashos, Messer, 2005). Of those, 78.1% of the fractured instruments turned out to be rotary instruments made of nickel titanium. A number of factors were associated with the fracture of nickel-titanium (NiTi) instruments, including:

•    The experience of the operator (Yared, Bou Dagher, Kulkarni, 2003)
•    Rotational speed
•    The degree of curvature of the root canal
•    Instrument design
•    Application technique
•    Manufacturing procedure
•    Non-patency of the root canal

There are two different situations that typically result in the fracture of rotary NiTi instruments:

1.    Torsional fracture
2.    Fracture due to cyclic fatigue

Both fractures are associated with the treatment of extremely curved canals. NiTi instruments fracture most frequently because the instrument tip is subjected to excessive torque when the helical blades penetrate into the radicular dentin. The fragment, which usually has a length of 3-4 mm, remains jammed in the radicular dentin.

The other characteristic criterion of these fractures is associated with the instrument design. Most of the rotary NiTi instruments have a taper of 4% to 12%. Due to this increased taper, which clearly exceeds that defined by the ISO standard (2%), the coronal part of the fragment remains blocked in the canal whereas its tip remains free. This particular feature–typically found in NiTi instruments–complicates the procedure of removing the fragment, which normally entails passing an endodontic hand instrument between the fragment and the canal wall and guiding it along the fragment to regain patency of the canal (Suter, Lussi, Sequeira, 2005). In this case, a more invasive solution is required. This involves straightening the coronal curve and releasing the fragment at the expense of the dentin walls. It has been shown that the attempt of removing these fragments leads to the removal of large quantities of dentin, thus resulting in a significant reduction of the mechanical resistance of the root (Spili, Parashos, Messer, 2005).

A multitude of tools designed to remove fragments of fractured instruments have been developed, with the Masserann set by Micro-Mega being the most well-known. This efficient kit contains an extractor that seizes the fragment before removing it. The main disadvantage, however, is the size of the extractor (external diameter 1.20 mm), which requires the canal to be enlarged up to the size of a Gates Glidden drill size 5 before the extractor can be inserted.

Although this extractor is very useful for removing fragments lodged in the coronal part of large teeth, it is unsuitable when it comes to removing a fragment located in the middle or apical third of the root canal or if the fragment is located in the thin root of a molar.

The introduction of the operating microscope resulted in the development of ultrasonic tips specially designed for this specific use:

•    ET 25 (Satelec)
•    ProUltra® endo 6, 7, 8 (Dentsply)
•    RT3 (EMS)
figure 1
The principal task of these ultrasonic tips is to extract the fragment through vibration (Ruddle, 2004). Although effective, this technique is very time-consuming and requires an operating microscope. What’s more, it demands great skill on the part of the practitioner, and it necessitates the removal of a considerable amount of radicular dentin (Alomairy, 2009).

A new set has recently been introduced (Endo Rescue Kit 4601, Komet) (Figure 1), which–though following the same basic approach as trepan burs, i.e. the exposure of the instrument fragment at the expense of the dentin walls–includes a number of special, advantageous features. The first feature is the presence of a center drill (Figure 2) with the same diameter as the trepan bur. The task of this center drill is to prepare the site for the work of the trepan bur. The other special feature is the miniaturization of the trepan bur. The external diameter of the trepan bur is merely 0.9 mm, which corresponds to that of a Gates Glidden drill size 3 (Figure 3).


figure 4-5

Clinical sequence

The clinical procedure consists of three consecutive steps:

First step:

The aim is to achieve direct access to the fragment while removing as little dentin as possible. Instrument fractures in the coronal or middle third of the root canal are most frequently caused by incorrect preparation of the access cavity or the presence of a curve in the coronal third of the canal. The first step is, therefore, dedicated to rectifying the canal access and relocating the coronal entrance. This requires straightening of the canal wall opposite the curve. The instruments recommended in the Endo Rescue set for this step are those that are usually suggested for this task:

•    A cylindro-conical bur with non-cutting tip for straightening the walls of the access cavity
•    A short Gates Glidden size 4 for relocation of the canal entrance, which is moved along the wall opposite the coronal curve with vertical        back-and-forth movements
•    A Gates Glidden size 3 to prepare access to the fragment (clinical case Figures 4 and 5).

Second step:

The aim of this step is to expose the coronal part of the fragment and re-center the access passage to the fractured instrument.
A center drill (RKP.204.090) has been specially designed for this purpose. This center drill has the same external diameter as the Gates Glidden size 3, but the active part at its end has a tapered, concave shape. The outer blades drill into the dentin surrounding the fragment, and the concave, tapered area that encounters the coronal part of the fragment allows centering of the preparation. Thanks to the small diameter of the instrument, this task can be carried out removing just a minimum of dentin, while working in the center of the canal.

Third step:

The aim of this step is to remove the fragment by separating it from the surrounding dentin walls. To this end, the trepan bur (RKT.204.090), which has the same external diameter as the preceding instrument, is positioned in the preparation  previously carried out with the center bur in order to separate the fragment by drilling into the surrounding dentin. The cutting blades at the front of   the trepan bur allow easy penetration into the dentin. The trepan bur has to be used in a counterclockwise direction. As the bur penetrates further, dentin chips get deposited between the inner wall of the trepan bur and the fragment and jam the coronal part of the fragment. Once the coronal part of the fragment has been freed from the canal wall, it is pulled out of the canal together with the trepan bur (Figures 6-8). The center drill and the trepan bur have extremely sharp blades and, therefore, they have to be used either at low-speed (300 rpm at maximum) in a drive system for rotary NiTi instruments or manually (the set contains a special mandrel).

figure 6-8


The Endo Rescue Kit reaches its limits when the fragment is particularly long or located beyond the curve of the canal, in which case the blades of the trepan bur expose the coronal part of the fragment until the stop position is reached. The action of the trepan bur is interrupted before the fragment can be released from the dentin in the root canal. In this situation, the trepan bur can be used in combination with a suitable aid, such as an ultrasonic tip or a cannula filled with composite. As detailed above, the trepan exposes the coronal part of the fragment, but this is followed by a cannula of the same outer diameter as the trepan bur (i.e., size 20) filled with autopolymerizing composite, which is placed onto the already exposed part of the fragment. Once the composite has hardened, the cannula is pulled out in counterclockwise direction. The fragment that has now adhered to the hardened composite is pulled out along with the cannula (Figures 10-15).


There are numerous tools and methods for the removal of instrument fragments fractured in the root canal, however, most of them produce unreliable results and cause significant damage to the remaining radicular structure. Ideally, the radicular dentin should be preserved as far as possible, and the extent of the root canal preparation after removal of the fragment should not exceed that of a conventional preparation. Although the Endo Rescue system requires the removal of an additional amount of dentin, the reduced diameter of the instruments allows the fragment to be accessed with minimum damage to the root structure.

In line with all previously described methods, the decisive factor for a successful intervention is the preparation of the access to the fragment. Due to the fact that instruments fracture most frequently in the canal curve, it is vital to straighten the coronal curve in order to achieve direct access and an unobstructed view of the fragment.

A special situation that is particularly associated with the fracture of rotary NiTi instruments should be noted. Due to the fact that the helical blades of the instrument penetrate the radicular dentin in a rotary motion, thus generating a torque that exceeds the resistance of the instrument, most of the fragments are of small diameter, reduced length, and above all, completely surrounded by dentin at the site of the fracture. If ordinary ultrasonic tips are to be used for the removal of the fragment, this should take place without touching the fragment to avoid further fracture. This is a very tricky and delicate procedure. However, by centering the access passage to the fragment (center drill), exposing the fragment by removing the surrounding dentin (trepan bur) and then pulling it out in an counterclockwise direction, this tool is ideal for removing fragments of NiTi instruments–which currently constitute the majority of instrument fractures. At the moment, no other tool designed for dealing with this specific situation is available on the market.

The limitations of this system are associated with the root canal anatomy and the feasibility of achieving the required straight access to the fragment. An instrument fragment located in the apical third beyond an extreme curve cannot be removed with the Endo Rescue Kit alone. In such cases, it is recommended to use the trepan bur in combination with a cannula of identical diameter filled with composite.



The Endo Rescue Kit described in this report aims to provide a standardized procedure for the removal of fractured instruments. Compared to other instruments available for this purpose, it not only significantly reduces the amount of dentin that has to be removed in order to pull out the fragment, but also the amount of time needed for this procedure.


This article was first published in L’information dentaire, issue no. 11 (March 2010), and has been republished with permission.


Alomairy KH (2009) Evaluating two techniques on removal of fractured rotary nickel titanium endodontic instruments from root canals: an in vitro study. J Endod 35(4):559-562.

Ruddle CJ (2004) Non-surgical retreatment. J Endod 30:827-845.

Souter NJ, Messer HH (2005) Complications associated with fractured file removal using an ultrasonic technique. J Endod 31(6):450-452.

Spili P, Parashos P, Messer HH (2005) The impact of instrument fracture on outcome of endodontic treatment. J Endod 31(12):845-850.

Suter B, Lussi A, Sequeira P (2005) Probability of removing fractured instruments from root canals. Int Endod J 38(2):112-123.

Yared G, Bou Dagher F, Kulkarni K (2003) Influence of torque control motors and the operator’s proficiency on ProTaper failures. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 96(2):229-233.


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Brasseler USA®, a leading manufacturer of quality instrumentation, has introduced the new ESX® Rotary File System. Designed with several performance-enhancing patented features, ESX is a two file shaping system with a minimally invasive protocol which seeks to maximize the long-term prognosis of the treated tooth.   

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