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White, Stuart C.*

doi: 10.1097/01.HP.0000326340.81581.1a
Diagnostic Radiology II: Paper

Cone-beam imaging has gained broad acceptance in dentistry in the last 5 years. The purpose of this review is to describe the use in dentistry and consider issues requiring further development. Cone-beam machines emit an x-ray beam shaped liked a cone rather than a fan as in conventional computed tomography (CT) machines. After this beam passes through the patient the remnant beam is captured on an amorphous silicon flat panel or image intensifier/charge-coupled device (CCD) detector. The beam diameter ranges from 4 to 30 cm and exposes the head in one pass around the patient capturing from 160 to 599 basis images. These images are used to compute a volume from which planar or curved reconstructions can be extracted in any orientation. Voxels are isotropic and can be as small as 0.125 mm. 3-D images of bone or soft tissue surfaces can also be generated. In dentistry the most common indications for cone-beam imaging are assessment of the jaws for placement of dental implants, evaluation of the temporomandibular joints for osseous degenerative changes, examination of teeth and facial structures for orthodontic treatment planning, evaluation of the proximity of lower wisdom teeth to the mandibular nerve prior to extraction, and evaluation of teeth and bone for signs of infections, cysts, or tumors. Cone-beam images have largely replaced conventional tomography for these tasks. The effective dose from cone-beam imaging ranges from 6 to 477 microSv. The cost of the equipment is relatively low, about $150,000 to $300,000. Issues to be considered are the training of individuals making and interpreting cone-beam images, as well as means to further reduce patient exposure.

* UCLA School of Dentistry, University of California Los Angeles, 10833 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90095-1668.

For correspondence contact the author at the above address, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 1 July 2008)

©2008Health Physics Society