Cone-beam computerized tomography imaging and analysis of the upper airway: a systematic review of the literature

Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2011 Nov;40(11):1227-37. doi: 10.1016/j.ijom.2011.06.017. Epub 2011 Jul 20.


A systematic review of the literature concerning upper airway imaging and analysis using cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) was performed. A PubMed search (National Library of Medicine, NCBI; revised 9th January 2011) yielded 382 papers published between 1968 and 2010. The 382 full papers were screened in detail. 46 articles were considered clinically or technically relevant and were included in this systematic review. These were classified as articles on accuracy and reliability of CBCT imaging of the upper airway (n=4), accuracy and reliability of DICOM viewers (n=2), synopsis (n=10), technical (n=7) and clinical applications (n=27). When one paper was considered related to two or more categories, it was assigned to each relevant group. Results indicate that three-dimensional (3D) analysis of the upper airway using CBCT can be achieved in an accurate and reliable manner. Important obstacles still need to be addressed, including the impact of respiration phase, influence of tongue position and mandible morphology, longitudinal and cross-sectional 3D CBCT upper airway evaluation, and 3D CBCT definition of the anatomical boundaries of the upper airway.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cone-Beam Computed Tomography*
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Respiratory System / diagnostic imaging*