The Diagnostic Efficacy of Cone-beam Computed Tomography in Endodontics: A Systematic Review and Analysis by a Hierarchical Model of Efficacy

J Endod. 2015 Jul;41(7):1008-14. doi: 10.1016/j.joen.2015.02.021. Epub 2015 Apr 3.


Introduction: The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic efficacy of cone-beam computed tomographic (CBCT) imaging in endodontics based on a systematic search and analysis of the literature using an efficacy model.

Methods: A systematic search of the literature was performed to identify studies evaluating the use of CBCT imaging in endodontics. The identified studies were subjected to strict inclusion criteria followed by an analysis using a hierarchical model of efficacy (model) designed for appraisal of the literature on the levels of efficacy of a diagnostic imaging modality.

Results: Initially, 485 possible relevant articles were identified. After title and abstract screening and a full-text evaluation, 58 articles (12%) that met the inclusion criteria were analyzed and allocated to levels of efficacy. Most eligible articles (n = 52, 90%) evaluated technical characteristics or the accuracy of CBCT imaging, which was defined in this model as low levels of efficacy. Only 6 articles (10%) proclaimed to evaluate the efficacy of CBCT imaging to support the practitioner's decision making; treatment planning; and, ultimately, the treatment outcome, which was defined as higher levels of efficacy.

Conclusions: The expected ultimate benefit of CBCT imaging to the endodontic patient as evaluated by its level of diagnostic efficacy is unclear and is mainly limited to its technical and diagnostic accuracy efficacies. Even for these low levels of efficacy, current knowledge is limited. Therefore, a cautious and rational approach is advised when considering CBCT imaging for endodontic purposes.

Keywords: Cone-beam computed tomographic imaging; efficacy; endodontics.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cone-Beam Computed Tomography*
  • Dental Pulp Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Endodontics / methods*
  • Evidence-Based Dentistry / methods
  • Humans