Vertical root fracture: Biological effects and accuracy of diagnostic imaging methods
AIM To compare the accuracy of digital radiography (DR), multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) and cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) in detecting vertical root fractures (VRF) in the absence and presence of gutta-percha root filling. METHODOLOGY The root canals of 100 extracted human single-rooted teeth were prepared and randomly divided into four groups: two experimental groups with artificially fractured root and two intact groups as controls. In one experimental and one control group, a size 40, 0.04 taper gutta-percha cone was inserted in the root canals. Then DR, MDCT and CBCT were performed and the images evaluated. Statistical analyses of sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of each imaging technique in the presence and absence of gutta-percha were calculated and compared. RESULTS In the absence of gutta-percha, the specificity of DR, MDCT and CBCT was similar. CBCT was the most accurate and sensitive imaging technique (P < 0 .05). In the presence of gutta-percha, the accuracy of MDCT was higher than the other imaging techniques (P < 0.05). The sensitivity of CBCT and MDCT was significantly higher than that of DR (P < 0.05), whereas CBCT was the least specific technique. CONCLUSIONS Under the conditions of this ex vivo study, CBCT was the most sensitive imaging technique in detecting vertical root fracture. The presence of gutta-percha reduced the accuracy, sensitivity and specificity of CBCT but not MDCT. The sensitivity of DR was reduced in the presence of gutta-percha. The use of MDCT as an alternative technique may be recommended when VRF are suspected in root filled teeth. However, as the radiation dose of MDCT is higher than CBCT, the technique could be considered at variance with the principles of ALARA.