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J Am Dent Assoc. 2000 Apr;131(4):463-7.

Assessing the effectiveness of direct digital radiography barrier sheaths and finger cots.

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U.S. Army Periodontic Residency Program, Tingay Dental Clinic, Fort Gordon, Ga. 30905, USA.



Effective cross-contamination prevention is critical for direct digital radiography, or DDR, sensors, which are not sterilizable; however, current manufacturers' recommendations for standard precautions are limited to the use of plastic barrier sheaths, which are commonly known to tear or leak. The authors sought to determine the incidence of digital radiography barrier-sheath leakage, with and without additional latex finger cot protection, as measured by a water pressure test.


Four hundred plastic barrier sheaths were randomly assigned to four groups based on intraoral radiograph positioning device use and supplemental barrier protection with a latex finger cot. Sheaths were carefully placed to cover DDR sensors for a single intraoral use, gently removed from the sensors and tested for leakage through a water pressure technique.


Perforations occurred in 44 to 51 percent of plastic sheaths after a single radiographic exposure. However, only up to 6 percent of the plastic sheaths that were covered by a latex finger cot leaked during the water pressure test.


At least 44 percent of the plastic barrier sheaths leaked after a single intraoral radiographic exposure. Use of a latex finger cot over the plastic sheath significantly reduced leakage to no more than 6 percent.


Latex finger cots used in conjunction with the standard plastic sheaths that cover DDR sensors may more effectively prevent cross-contamination than do plastic sheaths alone. Dentists who use DDR sensors during highly invasive dental procedures such as dental implant surgery are encouraged to consider supplemental barrier protection for these delicate, expensive and nonsterilizable sensors to prevent patient cross-contamination.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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