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Clin Oral Investig. 2014 Jan;18(1):293-300. doi: 10.1007/s00784-013-0963-x. Epub 2013 Mar 24.

Comparative assessment of panoramic radiography and CBCT imaging for radiodiagnostics in the posterior maxilla.

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Oral Imaging Center, Department of Oral Health Sciences, KU Leuven & Dentistry, University Hospitals, KU Leuven, Kapucijnenvoer 7, 3000, Leuven, Belgium,



The purpose of this study was to assess whether and how the information obtained by means of cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) on maxillary posterior teeth differs from that obtained by panoramic radiography.


From 157 subjects (mean age 48 years, range 19-84 years; 89 females) referred to the oral imaging center, a pair of panoramic and CBCT images was selected for further analysis. Both imaging modalities were analyzed to determine the topographic relationship of maxillary teeth to the sinus floor. Pathologic conditions, apical periodontitis, and presence of soft tissue thickening were also examined with both techniques.


CBCT showed an intimate relationship of the first and second molar with the maxillary sinus in 54 and 38%, respectively. Thirty-nine apical periodontitis lesions causing reactive changes in the maxillary sinus were detected by CBCT, while just six of them were diagnosed with panoramic imaging. A total of 26 teeth with apical extension to the maxillary sinus were detected with CBCT, from which two could be identified with panoramic radiography.


This study emphasizes that anatomical and pathological involvement of the maxillary sinus in relation to posterior teeth is considerably high. It is of clinical importance that the 3D nature of CBCT imaging allowed a better assessment of the relationship between the maxillary sinus and posterior root apices compared to the low detection on panoramic radiographs.


CBCT imaging can be a valuable adjunct in radioanatomical and radiodiagnostic observations in the posterior maxilla. It may better visualize maxillary sinus involvement for posterior upper teeth than panoramic radiography.

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