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Int Endod J. 2000 Jul;33(4):392-6.

Identification of root canals in molars by tuned-aperture computed tomography.

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Department of Endodontics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.



To compare the tuned-aperture computed tomography system of imaging to conventional D-speed film for their ability to identify root canals in extracted human molars.


Thirteen maxillary and six mandibular human molars were mounted in acrylic blocks to simulate clinical conditions by surrounding the teeth with a radiodense structure. The teeth were then imaged with conventional D-speed film using a standard paralleling technique, and with a modified orthopantomograph OP100 machine using a Schick no. 2 size CCD sensor as the image receptor. The source images were registered and TACT slices were generated using TACT Workbench Software. Three observers were asked to identify the number of canals in the conventional film group and the TACT image group using specific criteria. Ground truth was established by cross-sectioning the teeth at the coronal, middle, and apical thirds of the roots and directly visualizing the root canal morphology.


TACT imaging detected 36% of 4th canals in maxillary molars and 80% of third canals in mandibular molars. Conventional film detected 0% of fourth canals in maxillary molars and 0% of third canals in mandibular molars. The differences in canal detection between the two techniques were statistically significant (Wilcoxon matched pair sign rank test, P = 0.001).


In this study, the TACT system of digital imaging was superior to conventional film in the detection of root canals in human molars and may be useful for the detection of root canals that will probably be missed upon conventional X-ray examination.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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