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J Endod. 2014 Oct;40(10):1549-52. doi: 10.1016/j.joen.2014.07.005. Epub 2014 Aug 23.

Radiographic identification of separated instruments retained in the apical third of root canal-filled teeth.

Author information

Department of Endodontology, Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel. Electronic address:
Private Practice, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Department of Endodontology, Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.
University of Milan, Department of Biomedical, Surgical and Dental Science, Centre for Research in Oral Health, IRCCS IstitutoOrtopedicoGaleazzi, Milan, Italy.



The aim of the study was to compare the diagnostic ability to radiographically detect separated stainless steel (SS) versus nickel-titanium (NiTi) instruments located at the apical third of filled root canals with either AH 26 (Dentsply DeTrey GmbH, Konstanz, Germany) or Roth sealer (Roth International Ltd, Chicago, IL).


Sixty single-rooted extracted human teeth with 1 straight root canal were instrumented to a size 25 apical diameter. In 40 teeth, apical 2-mm segments of SS (n = 20) or NiTi (n = 20) files were intentionally fractured in the apical part of the root canal. The remaining 20 teeth without fractured files served as a control group. Subsequently, the root canals were filled using laterally condensed gutta-percha and either AH 26 sealer (AH) or Roth sealer (Roth). All teeth were radiographed using conventional Kodak film (Eastman Kodak Co, Rochester, NY) and a charge-coupled device digital sensor. The evaluation of the images for the presence of a fractured instrument was performed independently by 2 blinded observers. The data were statistically analyzed using McNemar and Fisher exact tests.


The kappa values were 0.76 and 0.615 for the first and second observers, respectively, and 0.584 between the observers. There were no significant differences in the diagnostic ability between digital and conventional radiography or the different root canal sealers (AH vs Roth, P > .05). The sensitivity to detect fractured SS was significantly higher than NiTi (P < .05).


It may be difficult to radiographically detect a retained separated instrument. It is easier to radiographically detect fractured SS than NiTi instruments retained at the apical third of the root canal.


Complication, radiography, root canal–filled teeth, separated instrument

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