Apical root resorption: The dark side of the root

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The diagnosis of apical root resorption is usually based on routine radiographs. However, these methods are limited because the images reflect the superimposition of the whole root structure and can lead to underestimation of the extent of apical root resorption. In this study, we aimed to determine the lengths of the labial and lingual surfaces of incisors with apical root resorption and compare them with the longest radicular length obtained on sagittal images of cone-beam computed tomography, and to create a qualitative visual scale of the different patterns of apical root resorption.


Eighty-two incisors with apical root resorption from 25 patients had their labial and lingual root surfaces and the longest radicular lengths determined in the sagittal plane and compared. Five orthodontists, at 2 times, classified the images of each incisor according to a visual scale developed by the authors.


There was no significant difference between the labial and lingual surfaces; however, the longest radicular length was significantly greater than the shortest surface length. The visual scale showed intraobserver agreement of 0.615 and interobserver agreements of 0.74 and 0.52 at both times, respectively.


The difference between the longest and shortest root lengths suggests that radiographic superimposition underestimates the extent of the resorption lesion. The proposed visual scale showed a frequency of agreement above 65% and a coefficient of reproducibility varying from moderate to substantial.

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