Comparison of CT Imaging Artifacts from Craniomaxillofacial Internal Fixation Devices

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Abstract

This study compares the artifacts caused by craniomaxillofacial internal fixation devices in CT images. Mandibular reconstruction and “mini” titanium, Vitallium, and stainless steel systems, “micro” titanium and Vitallium systems, and stainless steel wires were evaluated. The hardware was placed on a nylon grid and submerged in water. CT images were obtained with both bone and soft-tissue window settings. All artifacts were compared and graded after a minimum of five observations each. The severity of “starburst” artifact was found to be related to the physical size of the fixation hardware and its composition. Titanium hardware caused the least amount of artifact. Vitallium and stainless steel fixation devices, with the exception of interfragmentary wiring, produced significantly more artifact. These results agree with theoretical predictions. The data indicate that when postoperative imaging is an important clinical consideration, (1) the least amount of implant material necessary to achieve stable fixation should be used, (2) the proximity of implant material to the area of interest should be considered, and (3) titanium implants produce less artifact than Vitallium or stainless steel implants. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 92: 1227, 1993.)

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