Application of three-dimensional computed tomography in craniofacial clinical practice and research

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Abstract

Following the invention of the first computed tomography (CT) scanner in the early 1970s, many innovations in three-dimensional (3D) diagnostic imaging technology have occurred, leading to a wide range of applications in craniofacial clinical practice and research. Three-dimensional image analysis provides superior and more detailed information compared with conventional plain two-dimensional (2D) radiography, with the added benefit of 3D printing for preoperative treatment planning and regenerative therapy. Current state-of-the-art multidetector CT (MDCT), also known as medical CT, has an important role in the diagnosis and management of craniofacial injuries and pathology. Three-dimensional cone beam CT (CBCT), pioneered in the 1990s, is gaining increasing popularity in dental and craniofacial clinical practice because of its faster image acquisition at a lower radiation dose, but sound guidelines are needed to ensure its optimal clinical use. Recent innovations in micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) have revolutionized craniofacial biology research by enabling higher resolution scanning of teeth beyond the capabilities of MDCT and CBCT, presenting new prospects for translational clinical research. Even after four decades of refinement, CT technology continues to advance and broaden the horizons of craniofacial clinical practice and phenomics research.

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