Computed vs. film-based radiographs' contour artifacts influence diagnosis of secondary caries

Eur J Radiol. 2023 Sep:166:111004. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2023.111004. Epub 2023 Jul 22.


To test local grey-scale changes on dental bitewing radiographs near filling margins for image acquisition. Forty approximal preparations in caries-free amalgam filled teeth and bitewing radiographs were acquired under standardized conditions applying four techniques. Film-based analog radiographs were digitized using flat-bed scanner (FDR). Phosphor-plate computed radiographs (PCR) were directly acquired by scanning VistaScan imaging plates. Image quality was tested using Preset Filter (PF) or manually applied IntraOral Fine Filter (IF) to enhance digital images. Local changes from digital imaging processing were assessed by comparing the margin-near (MN) and margin-far (MF) zone by a multivariate repeated measurements analysis. All images were acquired with 8-bit depth (256 shades). Dentine was displayed in 79 shades for FDR and 54 shades for PCR. PF or IF locally modify bitewing radiographs by darkening marginal dentine by 8 or 29 shades, respectively. The sharpest display of the margin (shades per pixel) from dentine to filling was found for IF (26.2), followed by FDR (23.2), PF (15.3) and PCR (8.3). Computed radiography with phosphor plates generate more homogeneous images compared to flatbed-digitized film-based radiographs. The filling margin was sharpest represented with the IF filter at the detriment of an artificial darkening of the dentine near the margin of the filling. Contour artifacts by filters have the potential to confound diagnosis of secondary caries. Algorithms and filters for sensor data processing, causing local changes above 2% of the dynamic range by non-continuous mathematical functions, should only be applied with caution, manually when diagnosing and reversibly.

Keywords: Computed radiographs; Digital imaging; Digitized radiographs; Film-based; Filter; Secondary caries.

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts
  • Humans
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement* / methods
  • Radiography
  • Radiography, Bitewing / methods
  • Radiography, Dental, Digital*
  • X-Ray Intensifying Screens