A comparison between two-dimensional and three-dimensional cephalometry on frontal radiographs and on cone beam computed tomography scans of human skulls

Eur J Oral Sci. 2009 Jun;117(3):300-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0722.2009.00633.x.


The aim of this study was to evaluate whether measurements performed on conventional frontal radiographs are comparable to measurements performed on three-dimensional (3D) models of human skulls derived from cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans and if the latter can be used in longitudinal studies. Cone beam computed tomography scans and conventional frontal cephalometric radiographs were made of 40 dry human skulls. From the CBCT scan a 3D model was constructed. Standard cephalometric software was used to identify landmarks and to calculate ratios and angles. The same operator identified 10 landmarks on both types of cephalometric radiographs, and on all images, five times with a time interval of 1 wk. Intra-observer reliability was acceptable for all measurements. There was a statistically significant and clinically relevant difference between measurements performed on conventional frontal radiographs and on 3D CBCT-derived models of the same skull. There was a clinically relevant difference between angular measurements performed on conventional frontal cephalometric radiographs, compared with measurements performed on 3D models constructed from CBCT scans. We therefore recommend that 3D models should not be used for longitudinal research in cases where there are only two-dimensional (2D) records from the past.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cephalometry / methods*
  • Child
  • Chin / anatomy & histology
  • Chin / diagnostic imaging
  • Cone-Beam Computed Tomography / methods*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mandible / anatomy & histology
  • Mandible / diagnostic imaging
  • Mandibular Condyle / anatomy & histology
  • Mandibular Condyle / diagnostic imaging
  • Maxilla / anatomy & histology
  • Maxilla / diagnostic imaging
  • Nasal Bone / anatomy & histology
  • Nasal Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Observer Variation
  • Orbit / anatomy & histology
  • Orbit / diagnostic imaging
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Skull / anatomy & histology
  • Skull / diagnostic imaging*
  • Sphenoid Bone / anatomy & histology
  • Sphenoid Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Zygoma / anatomy & histology
  • Zygoma / diagnostic imaging