When a file fractures during root canal treatment there are several treatment options available to the clinician. The definitive management should be based on a thorough knowledge of the success rates of each treatment option, balanced against potential risks of removal or file retention. Although integration of modern techniques into endodontic practice has improved the clinician’s ability to remove fractured files, removal may not always be possible or even desirable. The aim of the third and final review in this series was to analyse the literature with regard to the management of fractured files. Analysis of the literature demonstrated that the presence of a fractured instrument need not reduce the prognosis if the case is well treated and there is no evidence of apical disease. Therefore, in cases without apical disease removal of the file may not be necessary and retention or bypass should be considered. If apical disease is present, file fracture significantly reduces prognosis indicating a greater need to attempt file removal or bypass. A plethora of different methods have been employed to remove fractured instruments and although successful, these techniques usually require the use of the operating microscope and specialist care. Removal of a fractured file is not without considerable risk, particularly in the apical regions of the root canal, therefore, leaving the fragment in situ should be considered if referral is not possible. Finally, it is imperative that the patient is informed (accompanied by appropriate record keeping) if instrument fracture occurs during treatment or if a fractured file is discovered during a routine radiographic examination.
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