The retromolar canal (RMC) is a collateral branch of the mandibular canal. This branch seems to be involved in the innervation of the third molar, retromolar trigon and part of the buccal mucosa and fibres of the buccinator and temporalis muscles. The prevalence of RMC in osseous and CBCT studies was reported between 1.7 %-72 %. This study aims to investigate the prevalence of RMCs in a Turkish population using cone beam CT. 340 CBCT images of hemimandibles of 170 patients, with a mean age of 37 (range, 16-80), that clearly identified the course of the mandibular canal in the posterior mandible were selected retrospectively from the archived records of our Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology Department. The sagittal, coronal, axial and pseudopanoramic images were used for assessing the RMCs. This variant was found in 19 out of 170 patients (11 %). Of the 340 CBCT examinations in 170 patients, 20 showed the presence of a RMC (5 %). It was present unilaterally in 18 patients (95 %) and bilaterally in one patient (5 %). There was no difference in the presence of RMCs with regard to sex and sides of the mandible (p>0.05). Clinicans should be aware of RMC and this anatomical variance should be taken into consideration while planning surgery around this region. When there is any suspicion of the RMC presence CBCT is the best imaging modality to visualize the three-dimensional structure of this variant.
KEY WORDS: Retromolar canal; Anatomic variation; Cone beam CT.