The aim of this study was to evaluate an advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) method, apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) mapping, in the functional assessment of carious teeth. 38 extracted human teeth with scores of 0, 3 and 6 according to International Caries Detection and Assessment System (ICDAS) criteria were screened and subsequently analyzed by MRI at 2.35 T. Histology sectioning of teeth was used for the gold standard by analyzing two extreme cases (intact and severely decayed). ADC maps of the same teeth were calculated from corresponding diffusion-weighted images and used to obtain ADC distributions along dental pulp as functions of the relative pulp length measured from the occlusal pulp side. The measured distributions were analyzed for the best fit by a four-parameter three-segment linear regression model for ADC distribution along the pulp. MRI results were in good agreement with findings in histological sections of identical teeth. The best fit model parameters, relative decayed region depth, relative transition region width and ADC values of intact and decayed pulp tissue, showed statistically significant differences between the ADC values of intact and decayed pulp tissue (1.0 × 10(-9) m(2)/s vs. 0.74-0.89 × 10(-9) m(2)/s) and the relative decayed region depth progressing with ICDAS score (3 vs. 46% with ICDAS 3 vs. ICDAS 6). The results of this feasibility study confirmed relevance of ADC mapping for the discrimination and localization of intact and decayed regions in dental pulps of carious teeth.
© 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.