Diagnostic Accuracy of Periapical Radiography and Cone-beam Computed Tomography in Identifying Root Canal Configuration of Human Premolars

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The aim of this study was to assess the diagnostic accuracy of periapical radiography (PR) and cone-beam computed tomographic (CBCT) imaging in the detection of the root canal configuration (RCC) of human premolars.


PR and CBCT imaging of 114 extracted human premolars were evaluated by 2 oral radiologists. RCC was recorded according to Vertucci's classification. Micro–computed tomographic imaging served as the gold standard to determine RCC. Accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values were calculated. The Friedman test compared both PR and CBCT imaging with the gold standard.


CBCT imaging showed higher values for all diagnostic tests compared with PR. Accuracy was 0.55 and 0.89 for PR and CBCT imaging, respectively. There was no difference between CBCT imaging and the gold standard, whereas PR differed from both CBCT and micro–computed tomographic imaging (P < .0001). CBCT imaging was more accurate than PR for evaluating different types of RCC individually. Canal configuration types III, VII, and “other” were poorly identified on CBCT imaging with a detection accuracy of 50%, 0%, and 43%, respectively. With PR, all canal configurations except type I were poorly visible.


PR presented low performance in the detection of RCC in premolars, whereas CBCT imaging showed no difference compared with the gold standard. Canals with complex configurations were less identifiable using both imaging methods, especially PR.

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