John B. Ludlow, DDS, MS, FDS RCSEd, and his team of researchers have conducted research on cone beam 3D imaging to reveal a solution for dental professionals seeking a low-exposure alternative CBCT scanner. For the study, Ludlow compared doses from the newest i-CAT® model of CBCT technology—the i-CAT FLX—with those from conventional 2D and medical CT imaging alternatives. According to the researchers, the study’s findings offer clinicians information to make decisions about their imaging options for the best interests of their patients and their practices.

The study, published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, assessed effective doses of radiation for adults and children resulting from various combinations of field of view size and field location in Imaging Sciences’ i-CAT FLX. The researchers used dosimeters in adult and child anthropomorphic phantoms, positioned the phantoms for imaging, exposed with the desired technical factors, read the absorbed dose using a specially designed reader, and used the readings in the calculation of effective dose. The tests showed that i-CAT FLX Quick Scan+ protocols resulted in significantly lower doses than standard protocols for the child (P = 0.0167) and adult (P = 0.0055) phantoms.

According to Ludlow, the study showed the QuickScan+ protocol provided a substantial (87%) reduction in dose compared with the standard exposure protocols in both child and adult phantoms. “Thus, when QuickScan+ protocols can be used, they will provide a clinically meaningful reduction in dose,” he says.

While reductions in dose are accompanied by reductions in image quality, these low dose volumes are useful for specific tasks. Ludlow noted that the study indicated, “The Quick Scan+ image volume provides 3D information with minimal geometric distortion that is unavailable in any 2D image and at a comparable dose.”

The benefits of Cone beam 3D imaging are becoming widely recognized for implants, oral surgery, orthodontics, and other specialties because of the additional vital information that scans provide.

“Studies such as this allow practitioners to compare the relative risk of different examinations, techniques, and equipment,” Ludlow adds. “Together, with information on image quality and diagnostic utility, practitioners can make evidence-based decisions on when to prescribe radiographic imaging and what technologies and techniques to use in acquiring diagnostic images.”